UConn Head Coach Bob Diaco
Credit to Maine and Coach Harasymiak. Maine is a hard-nosed bunch just like their coach. They play great defense and have for a time and that has bled into the team. Tonight was a good hard-fought game, which was a lot of fun. A very exciting game that hopefully everyone was entertained by. We are going to have a bunch of fourth quarter fights down the stretch. The difference between 2015 and 2016 was we didn’t finish those games successfully in the past and we did tonight. I’m pleased with the intestinal fortitude and grit of the team and their ability to execute down the stretch and put enough plays together to win the game.
On Bryant Shirreffs
He’s a hard-nosed tough guy who made some big plays and put the ball in the right spot. He made some plays with his legs to keep drives alive and was very exciting. But he also was in the point of attack of a game-changing turnover or this one wouldn’t have been this close. He was off target a bit so he’s got some things to clean up. I’m pleased with his effort and some of the things he did and the plays he made with his legs and the way he orchestrated the two-minute drive down the stretch. But he absolutely has stuff to clean up.
On the Special Teams
The special teams were the best. Justin (Wain) did a fantastic job, Bobby (Puyol) kicking off and kicking field goals along with the coverage teams were great. From my perspective, all the balls that were supposed to be fielded were fielded. We would like a little more push and dynamic return game happening there with kickoff returns so we’ll have to look at that. But the field goal block was a big play and the game-winning kick at the end was huge with a freshman snapping to a redshirt freshman. So I’m super excited about our special teams.
On the Offensive Line
Maine was storming the castle and it’s one of those games where they should because they have nothing to lose. There is a feast or famine component to that and there were plays that were punishing to that also.
Bryant Shirreffs – UConn QB
On making a lot of plays with his feet:
I didn’t expect that. I would like not to do that, but it just happens. Some plays I wish I could take back, others I was happy with.
On game-winning drive:
That was huge; that changes the whole atmosphere of everybody’s attitude. It gives us momentum going into the next game.
On trailing in the fourth quarter:
Initially, I couldn’t repeat what I was thinking because it was pretty vulgar. I knew we were going to win the game though, it was just a matter of how we were going to win. I think we made some blood pressures rise a bit, but it’s good we got that experience in the two-minute drill.
Bobby Puyol – UConn K
On the final drive, which led to the game-winning field goal:
I wanted to kick it. I felt good from around 55 yards, but we wanted to get closer. Bryant and the offense did a great job of getting the ball in position for us and it was great to see.
On special teams’ effort:
It’s a third of the game and we take a lot of pride in what we do. Justin (Wain) has improved every year and it’s great seeing what he does in practice translating into the game.
Maine Head Coach Joe Harasymiak
Opening Statement – “I’m really proud to be the coach of this team. That’s the first thing I told them in the locker room. I told them that before the game and I told them just now. It is a great group of kids to coach. They just showed just about everything they had tonight. Football wise, obviously we missed two field goals and that hurt us. I think, the scrambles, he (Bryant Shirreffs) had over a 100 yards, that hurt us. They had 200 yards rushing and he had 115 of them. We knew that coming in but he is obviously a great player and he’s going to make plays. Overall, just very proud of my team tonight.”
On being nervous as a first year head coach in first game – “Not really. I was more nervous about everything else. You know meals, buses arriving on time; all that stuff. The game, coaching these guys that’s the easy part. This is why we do it. Great atmosphere tonight, we don’t get this every week. I would say more anxious to get going. Maybe nervous just a little bit. A long day, especially when you get a 7 pm start.”
On taking a 21-14 lead in the 4th quarter – “Great play by Najee (Goode). You know they are going to come back and fight. I knew when we got the ball back, I told them we can grind this out, kick a field goal and win the game and we almost did. After a play like that, we were pretty high on the sidelines.”
On team’s effort in loss – “We don’t like losing. We don’t schedule these games to collect a paycheck, we schedule them to win. That was our mindset coming in. It is disappointing. But as a coach, as a player, we have a lot of football left.”
Junior Defensive Back Najee Goode
On his touchdown – “We had called that same play earlier and I missed. I knew I had to get him. I hit him from behind, ball came out and I was able to scoop and score. That’s a drill we do in practice every day.”
Senior Quarterback Dan Collins
On offensive performance – “Felt great. I thought we had a lot of high energy and a lot of focus. We just didn’t finish at the end which we preach about and talk about all the time. It’s disappointing at the end.”