Obviously it was an outstanding game, a lot of things happened during the course of it. What I talked to the team about was, a great effort defensively on the short fields holding them to three. You guys that have been here in the past, we haven’t really done a good job of that in the past. For them to stand up like that, that’s very difficult to do in this league against a team that has quite a bit of weapons out there. Holding them to that, I thought offensively we moved the ball at times. I thought there were some critical (mistakes.) Again a penalty came up that really hurt us. I thought we had a couple of tough reads where I don’t think we made the best decisions. I thought that C.J. (Spiller) came back and ran the ball well, had some big runs in it. I think that’s going to continue to help us. We didn’t do some smart things out there, with a couple of the situations and we’ll address that. I’m proud of this team for believing in one another; I think that’s important. I don’t think we ever lost faith when the defense held up like that to be able to come back and score. They’re a good bunch of guys, we’ve got to continue to work to get better and continue to improve because if you make mistakes, you miss a field goal, you turn the ball over, you get penalties in crucial situations, you don’t have a lot of opportunities to win in this league because it’s so close. I’m proud of the team, I'm proud of the coaches for hanging in there. We’re going to look at the film and get back to work knowing that we have to correct a lot of things.
On the passing of Onondaga Community College Athletic Director Rob Edson:
I talked to Scott (Berchtold) and I’m having a difficult time, it’s a personal situation. Syracuse University and Central New York lost a dear friend. Rob Edson who I worked with for quite a long time. He became the athletic director of Onondaga Community College. It’s difficult for me because Rob, when I was at Syracuse, he’d always come in after the games and kind of cheer me up and pick me up and keep things in perspective. I think about his wife, Sue Edson who works in the same role as Scott and worked with me everyday to see the person you guys have in front of you now and to get better with the media and how to handle the media. They have two beautiful children and it hurts. I know that Rob was watching and I can’t stop thinking about that. When that game was coming down to the end, my prayers just go out for him and his family. I apologize, but I think the real story is with those players in that locker room and the faith that we have to get better.
Q: It’s your first win and
A: I think they were happy. I told the players we prepare and we go out on the field expecting to win and I think that obviously they’re very happy. It’s good to get the first one, but I think one of the main things is when you talk about winning and you talk about changing the culture, you talk during the week about what you have to do and what you have expect to win. I think that’s one of the more important things, rather than being there and going, ‘Oh gosh, can you believe we won?’ We had a good week of practice; we have to continue to get better at some things. That’s what the motto of the team is.
Q: Can you talk about the last drive?
A: It was tough. The deal was they ran the ball a little bit better at the end. Give them credit they were trying to run it out. Thinking about when to take the timeouts and we took the timeouts consecutively after the two-minute warning. EJ didn’t come off a great drive before, so obviously from that standpoint you get a little bit concerned. There’s a sequence of what we wanted to do that we were preparing obviously after that drive when we knew we were going to get the ball back with how our defense has been playing. I think we made some nice, some good decision on that drive. Getting the ball out, getting the ball out of bounds. Fred (Jackson) made a play down the middle. Stevie (Johnson) makes a great play. They get a penalty and we get the ball down, which is a good call. Then he scrambled gets to the one and gets out of bounds. I mean you’re holding on by then, and give credit to the line. It’s at that point in the game where if it’s a sack, probably game over from a time standpoint. They worked well, they operated well and at the end they were in man and coming after us and we got Stevie in the back of the end zone and he made a play.
Q: Can you remember a time in your life when you emotions were at such a high and a low at the same time?
A: I guess because of my faith and what I believe in, I think after the game was over, that’s when the emotion took over. I think we all know we have a job to do and a responsibility. I know that sounds cold in a sense, but it’s more important for me to be there for the team and do that, and then now afterwards my thoughts went to Rob (Edson) and his family. That’s what’s tough. I think we’re all humans. My emotions are no different than anyone else’s in this room if that happened. It’s a tragedy, it really is.
Q: All summer long we’ve seen EJ where he might have a bad stretch and then all of the sudden he picks it up. Did you say something to him before the final drive?
A: Yeah he keeps telling me, and it gets me upset, he keeps telling me ‘I’m alright’. He’s asking me, like he’s turning around on me that I’m not alright. I’m alright, I’ve got the control, I’m making sure he’s alright. If he’s alright, then why is he making these decisions? But that’s the type of kid he is. He’s very relaxed, so I’m like ‘What did you see? Why’d you do that? That’s not the read.’ That’s the type of way I go about it. I don’t go out there screaming at them, ‘You should know better, this and that.’ Those are the mistakes, as I said early on that we’ll see. That happens. The turnovers are the one thing that we don’t accept and he understands that. He’s in a good place mentally knowing that he has a long way to go. I wouldn’t say he had stretches of it, you know what I mean? When you look at the game, it’s not really stretches of poor decisions. It is back-to-back poor decisions on the second one where he intercepted it and that really hasn’t happened before. Then he comes in and he’ll get on a roll or a rhythm and make good decisions. I would say that the poor decisions are kind of here and here, but they’re not long stretches. I think that’s a quality that he has, that he’s able to get right back on track.
Q: Can you talk about
A: I saw power today in rushing that passer. He was around. I told him afterwards, ‘Hey don’t dance with this guy early let’s go and close the distance, make a move and go.’ I thought he did a very good job of that. I think that when you get people behind in the sticks, that’s where the pass rushing ability really takes a level up. Where they’re not worried about run or pass and if you can get them in a situation, I think then those elite pass rushers really rise to the top.
Q: Was there anything he did that surprised you?
A: No. My expectations and I’ve said this before, I have very high expectations for all of our players. It’s kind of tough to get a ‘whoa’ moment out of me.
Q: Can you talk about what your thought process was between driving down six or if it had been down three?
A: I can’t really answer for them. I really can’t say what their thought process was. I can tell you what our thought process was after that, whether it was six or would have been three. If it was three, we’re going to score the touchdown and win the game. Then at some point, during that we’re going to make the call, kick the field goal to win. Does that make sense from the strategy standpoint? Then obviously we had no choice with six, we had to go for the touchdown. I don’t think it changes what we’re trying to do because our goal is to win the game. It comes to a point where if it’s third and 15 or you get behind in the chains and it’s third and really long and you say, ‘Hey listen. Let’s check this thing down, maybe we can run for the first down, but if not let’s take the field goal and go to overtime.’ I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s how I would have thought in the situation if we couldn’t score the touchdown.
Q: For EJ to get one under his belt like that, that’s got to help his confidence right?
A: I think that’s a good question for him. Obviously I’m sitting here and I hope he says yes, but I have an expectation for him to have that. When we hand someone the ball, we expect them top be able to do things like that, I know it doesn’t happen that way all the time. Our expectation is for us, he’s our quarterback, we expect him to lead us down the field, score and win. I think that if I lowered those expectations then we probably wouldn’t be siting here right now happy.
Q: How much does it help with a young team going in to a work week with something like this as opposed to a loss?
A: It’s the age old saying. You can coach them a little bit tougher, coach them a little bit harder, get the things corrected that you need to do. I think it’s a long season; you need to keep things in perspective. I think it helps from a standpoint that the one thing I would say, just like I told the team, what I get excited about is when you have a bunch of men that believe in each other. When we took that ball over there, and I tell you what, the defense for them to stand up the way they did is outstanding. They were able to hold them to six and then we were able to go out there and do it. I think it’s more from that end, seeing the team coming together and believing in themselves. Like I said before in an interview during training camp, the human spirit you don’t want to mess with that. It’s pretty strong.
Q: They brought a blitz at EJ on that final play. How happy are you with how he handled the pressure?
A: We figured, not to say that we knew exactly what they were going to do, but I think in those situations a lot they do come after you and you have to make a play. That’s what happened and we were able to make the play.
Q: You mentioned you want the guys to believe in each other. How much does them watching EJ do that help in that extent?A: I think that’s a good question for them. I really can’t answer it for them.