Oct. 16, 2007
UCF Football Press Conference
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. O'Leary discussed the Knights upcoming game with Conference USA West Division foe Tulsa.
Kickoff for the game, which will be a rematch of the inaugural Conference USA Championship game from the 2005 season, is set for 4 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium.
Below is a transcription of selected comments from the press conference. A complete audio file is available on-line at www.ucfathletics.com.
"Let me get the last game out of the way first, then I can deal with any questions you may have. One, so everybody understands, it is that I am accountable for everything that happens in the football program. I usually try to answer the questions that you (all) ask me as far as regarding offense, defense, special teams, or players. Everything really falls back on myself regarding the football program. I take full responsibility for whatever happened Saturday. When you look at it, nothing changed from what I said on Saturday. I thought offensively, we were very indecisive in what we were doing blocking-wise. Defensively, I thought we were very careless in keeping leverage on the ball. That is strictly what took place there. Is it a disappointing loss? Hell yeah. In all my years, I may have had one game where I felt worse from a competitive standpoint then that one. Again, it is amazing how many people have amnesia after the game. You know, as far as what took place and what happened, coaches do not. My responsibility is to get the team ready for the next game. We have done whatever we had to do with that last game and moved on to the Tulsa game."
Have you made a decision about which quarterback is going to play against Tulsa?
"The best quarterback in our program, right now, is Kyle Israel
. From the standpoint of everything we want to get done with him. He will be the starting quarterback and, again, Mike Greco is the second quarterback. As long as Kyle is doing what he has to do in moving the football team that is what we will do. My concern offensively is consistency. When you have 17 possessions and 13 of the 17 are three and out, you cannot get things done. Our defense is taking a major hit from everybody regarding what they have done. When you look at the whole gamut and you analyze what has taken place - that is 13 possessions with three downs, we are just on the field too many times defensively, too many downs, in some bad situations, field position wise. They have to play better, I understand that, but the offense is not helping the defense and the defense, at times, is helping the offense a lot more than the offense is helping the defense, right now, especially that and a couple of turnovers regarding the offense.
"Likewise, they had 17 possessions and they only had four three-and-outs. So you just reverse it. I see, right now, consistency of the offense and the tempo of the offense (as areas that need improving). Again, that is what I addressed this week with them and, basically, I think the big thing with them is the indecisiveness that I have seen the last two games on our offensive line. I think we may be trying to do too many things with them. I have addressed that. Again, the key is that people need to make plays, which is something that is not getting done right now.
"Defensively, I think we have to be more conscious of what is taking place from an assignment standpoint and leveraging the ball. It is as simple as that. Again, there are way too many missed assignments or tackles in Saturday's game where we actually had the ball carrier corralled and we missed a play. In fact in a couple of them, more than two guys missed them. I have to stay with the football team and do things right with them and understand that nobody is happy about the last game, but life has to move on. Now does it move on from the coaches real fast? No. My experience with the players is that they are very resilient and at times amnesia sets in. You get concerned about that from a mental-toughness standpoint, but I do think that they are out practicing and trying to get things done right with them. That is all I can get done with them. Believe me, the people that can perform the best are out on the field."
"We are 3-3. We have six conference games left to play. We can sort of still control our own destiny as far as what we have to get done - what the goals were for the season. That is what I addressed to the football team. You play one game at a time. The month of October, I said earlier, was going to be a make or break month for us, there is no question. We are 3-3 and if I sat in this room last May and asked this audience where we would be, I do not know how many would have said 3-3. Alright, maybe somebody would say more. I don't know. We are 3-3, probably we should be 4-2 as I see it. I think the opportunity that we have with the next conference game is big. That is why we are in it. Conference dictates what happens and not by any means am I not passing by the last game, but the last game as far as the program is concerned is over. It will be addressed in recruiting ... Right now our concern is Tulsa and they are the second-ranked offense in the country. They have a quarterback that really makes good decisions and a fast-tempo offense, so our defense will have their work cut out for them. Their defense is a 3-5 (base) defense and a lot of blitzing and all that stuff, so our offense is going to have to be sharp in their assignments making sure they understand what is going on. That is where the concern is. I have not brought up the last game at all except for Sunday and that was the end of it. We need to move on. My experience in all the years is that you do not keep harping on stuff. You have to move ahead and worry about the next game. That is the great thing about football, you have a chance to go out and redeem yourself the next game. Alright, that is basically what I have told the players. As I said, the train is moving, they either need to get on or get off it."
Tulsa is the second-ranked offense in the nation. How do you prevent this game from becoming a shootout on Saturday?
"We have to hold onto the ball. The one thing that we have always done a good job of is (keeping) possession and you cannot have possession when you have 13 out of 17, three-and-outs. We have always had a lot more possession time than our opponents. What we are doing now is that we are not doing that and we are putting our defense on the field too often and in too many bad field positions. We keep working at what we do - worry about moving the chains and not big plays, that is something that I have always preached. I think we are worried too much about big plays. Every run cannot be a 20-yard run. Every run is a four- yard run and that is all what you should be looking for. Just like every pass, the average pass is a six or seven yard pass when it breaks down to the end of the game. Later on in the third and fourth quarter, those runs become nine-yard runs and those passes become thirteen-yard passes. I think we just have to go back to moving the chains and team possession. The big thing you need to do is keep the ball away from a potent offense like that."
What does your defense need to do in order to slow down the Tulsa offense?
"We have to play smart. We have to play to the scheme of the call. Just like you are looking for big plays on offense, you are looking for big plays on defense. From a (turnover) standpoint, the first two games we had five takeaways. We have not had any now in the last three games and that is the thing I have really been harping on. We spend a lot of time (in practice) on stripping drills and all that. We need to take this stuff to the field on game day."
How important is it to play a home game after the previous two road games?
"The players will protect their house. They have made that statement already from the first three home games we have had. Anytime, the home field advantage is what we you looking for as far as the crowd noise is concerned and from my understanding it is a sellout. The fans, they probably are, because they take that last game to heart all the time, they have a right to be annoyed in my opinion. I am annoyed. But, we need to move on. I need to move on and they do not have to. They can do what they want with the coaches, but I think (as far as) the players are concerned, they need to understand that they are 18-19 year old kids. They need to get behind the kids."