UCF Head Coach George O'Leary met with the media Tuesday. The following is a transcript from the session.
On the rivalry with Marshall...
"I think every game's a rival game. I
think we're on everybody's high-list right now. I always look forward to going
up there; they have a good fan base, they're an active crowd. ... I enjoy going
up there and competing. This is a conference game. It's a big game as far as
they only have one loss in conference so we got to stay one game ahead. I think
we're at the stage [where] we got to control our own destiny as far as what's
taking place. Again, it's a big game for us but every game is a big game. This
will be a major, major game up in Huntington as far as Marshall's attitude with
what's going to take place."
On keeping the players focused with
back-to-back road games...
"They understand every game's a new
adventure. We haven't played the way we would've liked to have played for a
couple of weeks now. ... We still, basically, got to put a 60-minute game
together. We had both players with Latavius Murray getting the Conference USA
Offensive Player of the Week and A.J. Bouye getting the Defensive Player of the
Week in the conference. So, there are some fellows out there that are really
doing well but we just got things we got to get cleaned up. Offensively, as far
as the passing game, we've been out of sync for a couple of weeks and we're
working hard this week on getting some of those things corrected. Defensively,
I think we're trying to do too much. We got guys that are supposed to be in
certain alignments [that] aren't there and that's why you're having some missed
plays or some yardage that we shouldn't be giving up. I just think we're trying
to do too much. I've scaled it back this week so we can be in position to do
things we have to get done."
On the NCAA hearing concerning the
postseason ban being in January...
"I was told last week that the hearing
would be Jan. 24th, which is what I thought it would be. I think it's great
news for our team, great news for our fan base and we would've never had
appealed that unless we thought we had a great opportunity to win that certain
sanction. When I read what's going on with some other schools, it's not being
consistent as far as what happened. I expected it to be (in January) or after
then. Again, nothing has changed as far as the football team is concerned. Now,
basically we can fight for a conference championship; we can go to a bowl game.
Then we need to go out and win that appeal Jan. 24 and I definitely think we
have a great opportunity to do that."
On letting the players know that they can
play in the championship game and a bowl game...
"Well, I told them that in August so
there was nothing new I could tell them. They just reassured that there's
nothing in our way except ourselves and I think that's what I said to them - 'Hey, right now everything that's
on the table is there and we just got to
keep going after the things we need to go after.'"
On the progression of the Marshall offense...
"They're averaging 569 yards a game
which is a lot of plays but what they're doing is, in the last four games, they
had (89, 91, 90 and 85) plays. In just the one half of the Southern Miss game
there were 44 plays. They're running a lot of plays - high tempo, quick tempo.
They're no-huddle but I think they're very fastball no-huddle. Some people call
it NASCAR, I call it fastball but that's what they are doing. The more plays
you run the better opportunity you have to put points on the board and get
yardage. I think when you look at it as far as what's happening, is that that
they're giving, they're scoring. They've scored 151 points and given up 120 in
conference, we've scored 113 and given up 68 in the three games. But when we
look at yardage, really I don't look at statistics, I look at defense versus
the score. That's what I look at. The 569 yards, that got you in the top five
in the country. But the opponents are getting 450s yards a game too. We average
about 401 a game, and I think we give up 350. What's out of whack, for us, is
our run yardage, that's usually better than it is. Again, those stats really
don't mean much; it's defense versus the score. You still got to go up and make
plays. The key to any fast break team is what I've said the whole season,
three-and-outs. You got to get off the field and don't let them sustain drives.
You got to tackle well and then you basically got to have some break-ups in the
passing game. They have good receivers; the quarterback's playing very well for
them; they run three different running backs back there. They're all cutback
zone runners so you have to make sure you're gap-sound, gap security as far as
the defense is concerned and we need to tackle well."
On the play of the Marshall defense...
"I think eventually, you have to be able
to stop the run and basically, run the ball yourself and if you can do those
two things, you're going to play good defense because of ball control, field
position and all that. It still comes back down to that. I don't think I'd want
to be involved with a team that has to outscore somebody to win. I think eventually
it's going to catch up to you when you face a team that can control the ball
and can make you really struggle to get down there. Now, Marshall's done a good
job. I think they're playing very well right now. So, we'll have our work cut
out but our players understand what's ahead of them in the game and what we
have to get done."
On what has to happen to get the offense in
"I think the key is, offensively, it
starts behind center. [Blake Bortles] has to play consistently the whole game, the
right way. You can't turn it over for a touchdown and we have to continually
work on sustaining blocks. We're making good contact; we have to sustain the
contact. I think that's the difference as far as what's taken place."
On the impact of RB Latavius Murray
returning to a starting role...
"I don't think people realize that he
got hurt in the Akron game and a lot of our fan base and people don't
understand that it takes a while to come back from a shoulder injury that was
severe. He was out four weeks and probably, when we did bring him back ... I
didn't think he was ready. Normally when I get shoulder guys back, I tell them
to hit the sled with that shoulder and if I see any wincing or any of that,
they're not ready to play, especially at running back because you're going to
put the ball on the ground. I think that shoulder now is 100%. He got nicked
up, basically, an ankle sprain about two weeks ago and that's why he was
limited. He's full-go right now and he's the number one running back. I think
he showed signs of why he's the number one running back on Saturday night with
those runs and he continues to do that. I think we have very good guys that can
go in and give him a breather but that is what they need to be doing - going in
and giving him a breather. There's no order of running back by committee. He is
the running back and we have two very capable running backs that can go in and
help out whether with injuries or just to give him a blow. That's how I spoke
to the offensive staff this week."
On Bortles not turning the ball over but not
being as precise...
"I think he's making good decisions. I
only thought last week he was late in his decisions. That's where he got into
his problems. I don't think he was setting up correctly and I think, sometimes,
young guys want to wait for the perfect throw instead of taking what's
available right now. We had three sacks last week and I thought [for] two of
them the ball should have been gone. It's not the offensive line; it was more
on the quarterback holding on to the ball and I hate to see that guy doing this
with the ball. When that back foot plants, get rid of the ball. There should be
a time clock in your head going off saying, 'Hey, if it's not out, you're going
to have problems.' He's worked hard this week on planting and delivering and
planting, hitching and delivering. There are different deals with what we have
but I think it comes back to decisions, making quicker decisions."
On the future schedules for the next two
"I do know that we already have four
non-conference games scheduled and I'm trying to make some changes there. South
Carolina I know is home for us next year and then the ACC just went from a nine
game conference schedule to eight, so we're trying to hook up with some of
those guys to get something, to get a game here and a home-and-home type
situation. I like playing a good non-conference schedule. I always liked doing
that. I think it's great for fans, great for our player competition and to see
exactly where you're at. I really don't know much about what the BIG EAST is
doing. I think we're going to be geographic with rival-type situations. We're
opposite of South Florida. Cincinnati is opposite Louisville. Rutgers is opposite
Connecticut. You try to get rival-type situations done but it hasn't been done.
I still think they're trying to add a team and I think there's three or four
teams in the running there. They're all good schools but again, we could use
one more team. Navy gets freed up in the 2015 season to join up and the big
problem is that we're probably going to have another team to get it to 16. It's
in the works. I think the new commissioner of the BIG EAST is a sharp cat, Mike
Aresco. I think he's on top of all that."
"We have trouble getting games. It's
always home-and-home. The schedule for next year, if it stays the same, we have
seven home games. But I think there are one or two games that we have to look
at with the schedule and try to get an ACC team in here or something like that
because we can afford it with the seven home games to go home-and-home, away or
whatever we have to do. I think that's better for our schedule especially now
with the power ratings coming out. It makes a big deal of who you play. It's
going to hurt the other teams and they get a big paycheck but it's not helping
you as far as the rankings are concerned or the power rankings. So, you're
going to see a lot more of the traditional top-10 teams looking for more big
games instead of trying to buy a game and do that. I think it's especially
going to hurt the power ratings as far as the BCS which is what you're looking
On the most memorable Marshall matchup...
"Probably the first win (in 2005). How
can you forget that? I think that was probably the most memorable. I've been
through now three coaches with Marshall. Bob Pruett was there then Mark Snyder
now Doc Holliday. That's the problem with Conference USA is you see a different
coach every couple years whether they elevate or get replaced. I look forward
to the games with Conference USA and I think, basically, I like playing in the
weather we play out in. I'm not sure what Huntington will be like Saturday
night but there will be a great crowd there, it'll be loud. It's going to be a
very physical, tough ballgame."
On the play of P Jamie Boyle...
"I think his hang time is critical as
far as any punt. He really, for a first-year punter, has gone unnoticed as far
what he's done in the game. You have a lot of these punters that average 42, 43
and they're putting everything in the end zone. It's selfish. He's the complete
team player and is willing to drop the ball inside the 10. That's what we look
at with sky-kicking. That's what he did when Kemal (Ishmael) got the ball on
the 1-yard line this past game and plus, he's getting great hang time, so, you
have a chance to cover it and we're very good as far as punt return coverage
because they're not getting a chance to return it, they're sitting, waiting for
it. I've said before to be in the top-10 in the country, you're at 38.9 and
you're right there. Sometimes, these guys kicking it 50, 55 and they're
outkicking their coverage and those guys back there are pretty good when they
get in open space. They're tough. In the pros it happens a lot, they outkick
their coverage all the time and now they're starting to (get hang time or) kick
it out of bounds with some of the returners they have there. I think Jamie's
done a great job for a first year punter, really coming in not knowing if he
was going to be the guy but he sure won the job and he hasn't looked back since
he took the job."