Date: September 12, 2015 Opponent: Army Result: W, 22-17
Head Coach Bob Diaco
Credit to Army; their team and their staff. Army is such a great class act and a hard-nosed football team and a heck of a team. The games are always so incredibly competitive and hard to win. Kudos to them and the style of football that they play and we wish them all the best.
I was thinking early this morning, someone is waking their kids up and putting UConn gear on at 6:30 in the morning and headed to the convenience store and packing a cooler. Then we come in the lot at 7:20 a.m. and there are people filling in, grills are going and they’re tailgating. It’s just so awesome. The team knows it and we are not going to let you down. Thanks so much for doing that. Keep coming and bring a friend. We know it, we respect it, we love it and we are going to just build this thing back to where it needs to be.
On to our young men.
They are just growing and battling. They are vested in the mission and love being together and playing football. That shines through in our preparation and it showed today, where adversity isn’t really affecting them for extended periods of time. They are bought into making a play and one of their teammates stepping up and making a play. Whether it’s Justin Wain with some beautiful punts to pin the opponent inside the 10 and flipping the field when we needed one. Noel (Thomas) (coming up big), Arkeel (Newsome) running the rock and grinding out first downs. Some great decision making by Bryant (Shirreffs). Kudos to the young men; we love coaching them and are honored to coachthem.
On how it feels to start the Season 2-0
It feels great. It feels great to be in the locker room with the guys and they feel like winners. They are winners. No one was created to lose; that happens somewhere along the line. To see these guys win and feel winning and to know how they are going to feel tomorrow and to know how campus is going to feel Monday when school resumes is just the best.
On How the Team is Responding Differently to Adversity This Season
I think they understand that we can connect and communicate and that pathway is open. To Obi (Melifonwu on play he defended in the fourth quarter) we say great break. Do that again, it’s going to work out. Hey, sometimes you bite the bear and sometimes the bear bites you. But nicely done in your coverage and we’ll finish the play next time. And they believe it, because they should; we aren’t going to lie to them. And then when they get to the bench, we think about the plays leading up to that play and we remind them of those moments.
Junior, Wide Receiver, Noel Thomas
On getting the ball early to get in the flow of things
“I think that’s key for any receiver, you want to touch the ball early and get into the flow of the game.”
On what it’s like to play with Bryan Shirreffs
“Playing with Bryan is good, he’s comfortable with himself which makes everyone’s play more comfortable. When thing are going bad we’re looking to him because he’s the quarterback. He’s calm so we’re like okay, we’ve got this.”
On if the offense is starting to click
“The big thing with us, I think everyone is starting to get more confident. It’s not just one play here and there. It’s getting the offense as a whole to be more confident and I think that’s what we did.”
Redshirt-Senior, Safety, Andrew Adams
On how it feels to get the win
“There’s great vibes all the way around, all around the program. There’s no better feeling than winning. We prepared to win and that’s what happened.”
On making the interception to end the game
“I was thinking I’m in the right position, just make the play to put the game away. I was thinking in my head if I really make the play then the game is over. Thankfully, I made the play and the game was over.
On what the difference was defensively compared to last year
“The experience, having a year under our belts and having played them last year. Our scout team did a great job all week preparing us for the game. It wasn’t too different from what we saw in practice so I think that was a big help for us.”
On what the team did better defensively to combat Army’s sustained drives off the triple option
“I think we tackled better, especially in the second half. That was a point of emphasis for us at halftime after the long run their quarterback had in the first half and a few missed tackles. We focused on tackling. I think that was the key difference in our defense.
On how last year’s loss motivated the team this year
“It’s huge. It gave us a chip on our shoulders from last year. We didn’t want to come out and have them get us twice, two times in a row. We had that in the back of our head but we were just focused on executing and playing our game.”
Redshirt-Sophomore, Quarterback, Bryan Shirreffs
On getting the win
“It was a direct result from all the preparation we put in. We prepared all off season since January so it’s really refreshing to see it paying off but we’re never going to be satisfied. Now we have today off but tomorrow we’re going to get back at it and get ready to beat Mizzou.”
On preparation off the field translating to success on the field
“I tend to see the bad part of my game more than the good part. I’m just trying to fix some errors that I’ve made as far as ball security. That’s one of the things I really pride myself on and today I put the ball on the ground and that can’t happen if we want to beat anyone.”
Redshirt-Senior, Linebacker, Graham Stewart On being 2-0 to start the season since 2008
“It’s an awesome feeling but we’re looking ahead and to keep building on this. It’s a good feeling to come out and start this season strong with the first two wins but you want to go back and find the things you maybe didn’t do so well because that will lead to more wins.”
On how it is to get these wins where the team had to battle back
“It gives us momentum, helps us build our confidence and feel more reassured. It just make things a little easier.”
On team progression since the Villanova game
“We’re just trying to get better each and every day by working on the things you need to work on, trying to master your craft and grow your love for your teammates.”
Sophomore, Running Back, Arkeel Newsome
On getting back to role he had in high school:
“Definitely feels great. I’m reminiscing and I’m just thankful that they are giving me the ball. I’m just going to strive and get the most out of every carry I get.”
Does it feel different than last year?
“It feels a lot different. Just being about to sing the fight song outside and in the locker room. We never really got that much last year but this year it’s a great feeling.
Do you feel like this is a measuring stick for how far this team has come from last November and the feelings at the end of the game at Yankee Stadium?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s all in our preparation.”
Talk about your run for the touchdown, seems like there was a few guys who had a chance at you and you just ran through them:
“I just kept my legs moving at all times and I had the mindset that I was going to get in there.”
Sophomore, Linebacker, Luke Carrezola
“It definitely feels nice but our heads are on the right track. We’re just excited to be together and play football and just getting ready for next week, another big game and were going to prepare to win and expect to win.”
Do you look at the schedule and think we should be 2-0?
“Yeah, definitely. It’s wasn’t based on them, it’s just based on how we’ve been preparing and how we’ve been playing. Every game we’re going to expect to come out with a win because were going to prepare to win. That’s one of the biggest things; our preparation, our week of practice, and with these guys it’s been awesome and a fun experience.”
Touchdown to make it 22-17, was there temptation of “here we go again”
“No. Last year there was and it was evident. You guys can see it everywhere. But this year, we just go on to the next play and ready to play more. We have senior leadership that has been great, everywhere. I can name a whole bunch of guys and they just keep everyone’s heads on track. And were just excited to play the next play.”
Army Head Coach Jeff Monken
Opening Statement - “Nothing pleasant about coming in and having to talk about another loss. It’s agonizing for me and for our team to experience that. Give credit to UConn. They did a great job of sustaining drives, running the ball. They made the game really short and limited the possessions. We were two-for-two in the first half with a field goal and a touchdown but it wasn’t enough. We didn’t do a very good job in the second half.”
On defensive effort
“We didn’t tackle very well, missed a lot of tackles again and that was disappointing. Several times we had the guy in our arms and chance to stop them on third down, had a chance to stop them from scoring before the half and they kind of just beat through us. We have to do a better job with that. We had some missed assignments as well. A couple of other times we had some missed assignments in coverage.”
“I thought our guys played more confident on defense. We tried to limit what they did this week, give them less to do. I think that is what we have to do. We have to play every assignment perfect. We don’t have to play perfect, nobody is going to do that. There is going to be mistakes made. We just need to be in position and continue to improve that.”
On running the ball
“We didn’t sustain blocks long enough to get our guys going. We just missed a couple reads. Just didn’t sustain things. Where we really had trouble, particularly in the first half, was I thought we had some things play side but we would get the backside cut off. I thought our guys did some good things but we have to sustain blocks. They got off blocks and that’s a credit to them.”
Junior Linebacker Andrew King
On the loss:
“It hurts a lot. We didn’t do the things we need to do to win. I thought UConn executed and they were able to come out with the ‘W’. We just have to get better with fundamentals to have a chance to compete with Wake Forest.”
Sophomore Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw
On the UConn defense:
“They were just switching up at times and we were just trying to get the plays in there against the right defense and they did a good job. Losing some big plays on penalties, that’s a big setback when you execute the play well. We need to eliminate those.”
Sophomore Safety Rhyan England
On UConn passing game
“I think we knew what they were going to do and we missed some execution. I think we didn’t have the
communication that we needed. If we do what we need to do with fundamentals we could have defended the pass better.”