Sept. 18, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF Head Coach George O'Leary met the media on Tuesday in the interview room at Bright House Networks Stadium for his weekly press conference. The fourth-year coach discussed the Texas game and previewed the Knights' Conference USA opener vs. Memphis during the 20-minute exchange with local and statewide media members.
Kickoff for the C-USA opener at Bright House Networks Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. and will be aired on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast. UCF holds a 2-1 advantage in the series with Memphis and has defeated the Tigers in both meetings as respective C-USA members.
Below is a transcription of a majority of the O'Leary press conference quotes and a complete audio file of the press conference is available at www.ucfathletics.com.
"In review of the (Texas) game, we played well in spurts, I thought. In those kinds of games we need to make plays on offense and when it counted on defense. When you put the dagger in and go up 24-23, that next series was big and they drove the field to kick the field goal. That is where you have to step up as a defense and make plays. Overall, I thought we played well, but every game is decided in those type of games by seven or eight plays. We just cannot turn it over on offense and to give up points, the three turnovers, the pick for the touchdown and the two fumbles lead to seventeen points. You just cannot do that against a team like that. I never questioned our effort in the game and I thought we played with great effort. I just do not think that we made enough plays on either side of the ball when it counted. They moved the chains too often on us. They did not throw it over our head, but they threw it underneath our coverage a lot. We just have to pick up those things, which are coachable. Give them credit, I thought that we had 12 [Colt McCoy] a couple of times in our grasps and he got out of our grasps and worked from there. Overall, we improved in the special teams area. We played better there. Defensively, we tackled better and took them out of their outside quick screen game. They made plays when they had to make them and we just need to make more plays on defense. We were on the field way too long and our offense is causing some of that. Our passing attack really needs to improve. Basically, it is not always the quarterback's mistake. We have to get more receivers stretching the field as far as the coverage is concerned, delivering the ball, and making the catches that you are not supposed to make. A couple of times it hit our hands, they were not great throws, but you still have to make those catches as a scholarship athlete."
"Watching the tape of the Mississippi game, I think they should have won that game. They had three turnovers inside the 15, so they are a team averaging 472 yards on offense. They have a bunch of big wide receivers, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-7. Defensively, they are an attacking defense that puts pressure on the team in the run game and passing game. We have our work cut out, but as I told the players, it is a conference game and that really is what dictates what happens to us. This game is very critical as our first conference game, and if you want to stay in the race, you have to win."
What do expect from the differing formations that Memphis is going to run against the defense?
"They are a no huddle team. I do not know if they run them out late, but there is a lot of different personnel groups on the field all the time. Defensively, we are going to have to be sharp. Texas was a no huddle team, but they were sort of a very slow methodical no huddle team. Memphis is more of a fast break type of no huddle, where they get out there quick and snap it quick. Your defense has to be sharp. They have to be sharp on their calls and alignments, and know what personnel groups are on the field. That is why we have two coaches watching personnel upstairs and downstairs. I think everybody tries to matchup checker for checker, who is on the field. You do not want a linebacker out there covering a guy that he cannot cover. We try to matchup stuff the best we can, but they have been that way since we have played them, really. I have been impressed, the receivers are rangy guys that are 6-3, 218; 6-4, 225; and 6-6, 220. They also have some speed guys, 22 and 14. They spread the ball around a lot and their quarterback has been fairly accurate. Defensively, they won Saturday night convincingly and I really think by watching the first game that they had a really good opportunity to win that game, but they just turned the ball over."
How do you approach Kyle Israel after his performance on Saturday?
"He is a senior. I think when you are a quarterback at a Division I level, you are going to take the praise, but you are also going to take the heat too. That is what goes with the turf. Very few thin skinned kids make it a quarterback, since that is what happens at this level. I think Kyle knows that he looked good in a bunch of series, but when he had to make some plays, he did not make it. I am annoyed at myself for not getting Greco (into the game). We cannot get through the season without playing two quarterbacks. I want to get Greco in and Greco will be playing this Saturday. I am not sure when, but I am going to assign him a time to get in the game. Not because Kyle is doing well or not doing well, but because I think we are going to need two quarterbacks that have game experience going into the conference. Greco is just coming back healthy. Last week I thought we could have gotten him in. He is back healthy now from the injury and is throwing real well. Now, let's see what he can do, but he will get his opportunity this Saturday."
Do you feel that you need to stretch the field more?
"We need to stretch the field more. We have been trying to throw possession type routes which are fine, but you have to get off coverage to throw them. I think that we need to make use of the speed we do have and stretch the field more, especially when people are starting to hug the line of scrimmage with Kevin. They are putting seven or eight guys in the box. You have to win out side, but you cannot always win on short routes. You have to be able to stretch the field and let it go like we did the first play of the game. I thought we hung the ball up a little too and the kid made a great play coming across the middle to knock it down or that is a big play."
How will you make sure that the players will not overlook Memphis after the Texas game?
"After the game, I told the players, I never want to walk off that field without protecting our home because they kept referring to it as `Our House'. That was my last statement to them and they need to get that temperament. The fan base needs to get that kind of temperament. There is no question when this place is rocking, it's a home field advantage. The noise did affect Texas, but we need to have that every week. I will be more disappointed if we do not fill this place up. I think that is what the whole purpose is that there is not one bullet in gun. We shot the bullet now and we are just reloading. I think that is what I would be concerned about. The student body did a great job as far as getting behind the team. They did not even leave with the lightning going on. They really need to be like that every game. Most student bodies are able to control the tempo of the stadium."
The defense was on the field a lot, but they only gave up field goals and not touchdowns. Is this different than last year?
"It is different, but it is a slow death. You are on the field that many play and we do not have the ball. When they have the ball for 37 minutes and we have it for 23, you are not giving your offense a chance to get on the field and make things happen. They have to make it happen when they are out there, but defensively we have to make more plays on third down. Our first down yardage it too much, we have been putting ourselves in the hole on second down with second and five or six. Normally, when I look at that through my years is that second and seven plus. We want to be in that situation 57 percent of the time that is our goal. Everyone is the same on offense, if they do not get 3 yards on first down, they are throwing the ball. I would say 70 percent of offenses are that way. If they get four or more, now they are in the control situation whether it is run or play action. We have to do a better job defensively on first downs. Second and four or five is not good enough, the offense is in the driver's seat then."
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