Sept. 21, 2013
POSTGAME QUOTES vs. Rice
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Tony Levine
“A win is a win, and we’ll certainly take that one in this rivalry. Again the buildup of this week to this game today matched its billing with a lot of emotions on the field, a lot of emotions during the week. I was a couple minutes late getting here because I saw Coach (David) Baliff on the concourse, and I mentioned this all week, but our relationship means the world to me. He’s a friend, a mentor to me, and it’s unfortunate that one of these two programs had to lose this game. We’re excited about where we are right now at 3-0.
Our players will turn their focus to UTSA tomorrow. My focus is really quite honestly there right now. I’m mentally on the next one, but I certainly recognize the victory this afternoon, and what it means to our program, and what it means to us in terms of the city of Houston. It was not a perfect game by our players or staff by any stretch of the imagination. I just talked to our team, and told them a couple things candidly about that first touchdown was on me. I was too aggressive going after the first punt, and we roughed the punter. That was my fault, and at the end we gave up another touchdown on the blocked field goal. So while our defense gave up some yards 463 on 82 snaps by Rice, they did what we had to do for 60 minutes to win that game.
We won the turnover battle, and when we needed that stop at the end when they recovered the onside kick it was our defense got it for us. I’m proud of everyone in our program, a couple guys I singled out to the team just now happen to be young. Tyus Bowser had one and a half sacks and an interception. I told our team he had nine rebounds because he’s going to play basketball in the winter.
Eric Eiland went out with an injury against Southern, so he and Trevor Harris have been rotating in what we call our rush end position. When Eric Braswell went down early with an injury Trevor, Tyus and Cameron Malveaux played both end positions, and did an outstanding job.
Greg Ward got his first game action and rushed the ball nine times for 80 yards. I’m really proud of him, and he and John O’Korn are both in the same mold of they seem older in terms of the way they carry themselves. I was proud of John as he made a couple of freshman mistakes, but is still learning. He’s getting better, and he’s a competitor. He took some pretty big hits out there, and got back in the game and threw three touchdown passes. Deontay Greenberry had another productive game. Markeith Ambles got some reps today. He’ll only get better, and Ryan Jackson added a touchdown. We’re getting better, and the more we play the better these young guys will get. I look forward to working on UTSA tomorrow, and our crowd was outstanding, our students were outstanding, and the crowd was tremendous.”
On the plan with Greg Ward
“We went into the game saying Greg was going to play on the third series. I believe it was the second series John O’Korn got the wind knocked out of him. Greg went in from that point for three to four plays. Then game back out, and it the fourth series he came back in. Then coming out in the second half he was going to come in on the third series, and then we were going to take a feel of what was going on with situations, and down and distance. How we felt Rice was defending both quarterbacks was a factor. They might have been prepared for two quarterbacks but they hadn’t seen it. We went three and out on the first two series in the third quarter, and Greg came in, and gave us a spark. Again it’s something we’ll have a plan for John and Greg and continue to monitor David’s (Piland) health moving forward. Greg and I met in my office in August because of how far along he came during practice. When these freshmen come in they have two weeks to show if they are physically, and mentally ready to play, and he did. We talked about the possibility of him playing this season, so it’s something we’ve planned for over a month now.”
On the poise of John O’Korn
“Well he made some freshman mistakes and I made some 40 year old coaching mistakes, but he made some freshman mistakes playing. You had a throw at the end of the game where there’s four minutes on the clock, and he throws it right to a Rice safety that should have been intercepted when we’re trying to milk the clock. In the same respect it’s fourth down, and he throws a laser to Daniel Spencer for a touchdown with five seconds left. I certainly recognize the poise he has for an 18 year old, and how he continues to develop. I’m proud of him, because this was a hard fought battle. For us to get the victory, and for two freshmen to play quarterback is really valuable for their development long term.”
On kicking field goal at the end instead of going for it
“I was certainly weighing the options, and hindsight is 20/20. We kick the field goal we go up by 14. At that point we go up by 14 but you saw what happened. It wasn’t like it was a 50 yard field goal, it was well within his (Richie Leone) range. I don’t know if it was a protection issue or if the kick was low I didn’t see the replay of who actually blocked it. I contemplated going for it, but I wanted to be up by 14. I have confidence in our protection, and Richie Leone.”
On the rivalry not continuing
“It’s a great rivalry, because it’s so unique. I said this earlier in the week that there is only one other rivalry that has both programs in the same city being USC and UCLA. Coach Baliff and I are very close and our players know one another. Their staff has recruited our guys and we’ve recruited some of their guys as well. It’s a rivalry that I want to see continue. It’s great for the city, and there was tremendous buzz around the city of Houston going into this game. During our walk through yesterday there was a line all the way down our gymnasium of students buying ticket, and I’m sure that was going on at Rice as well. It’s something that energizes the city, and the crowd was great. People will be talking about it for the next few weeks, and there are bragging rights that go with it as well. It’s a fun event, and something I’d like to see it continue.”
On the play of Tyus Bowser
“People take it for granted thinking it’s so easy to come in as a true freshman and adjust to the speed of this level. When you talk about true freshman playing haven’t’ been through our condition, nutrition, and were limited in spring practice. We started coaching them seven weeks ago. For him to play at a high level this early shows how good he is. He’s only going to get better with time. “
HOUSTON Adrian McDonald
On retaining the Bucket Bowl Trophy
“This is my second year here, and we had it last year. I haven’t had a chance to lose it yet. It’s going to be in the training room when we get back for the whole year, and we probably won’t get a chance to play Rice again so that’s where it’s going to stay.”
On the defensive plays against Rice
“We just wanted to tackle them, and get them to the ground. We wanted to be efficient on third downs and make explosive plays. Going in to this half Rice had thirteen points, and that was our average for the first two games so we wanted to keep them there.
“Coach Gibbs makes the game easier so we don’t have to think as much, and we can fly around. We’ve got eleven people to the ball, and that’s how teams win.”
His thoughts after the onside kick
“Defense has to keep doing what they’re doing. They needed a touchdown to win, and it was going to be fourth down territory wherever the ball was marked, so it was a tough time.”
After the fourth down attempt
“I can’t describe it. I was hyped. It felt good.”
HOUSTON Ryan Jackson
On winning the trophy as a team
“It means a lot because we all go to practice every day, we all work with each other every day. We all grind with each other every day. It just means a lot because we’ve bonded so much with each other over the course of time, and this is the last time we might be able to win it so it means a lot to us.”
On the rivalry this past week
“It’s a big rivalry game, so it means a lot to us. There’s a lot of emotions going, and there’s just a lot of people that want to get at each other from both sides, either Rice or UH. We both want to get at each for this game because it’s such a big game for us.”
HOUSTON Deontay Greenberry
On being a main option for the quarterbacks
“We had two true freshmen who were able to get in today, and they both did an excellent job. It’s just going out there and making plays for the quarterbacks. You just have to go out there and execute and trust that your quarterback will get it there.”
On Greenberry’s stats during the game
“I don’t really have that going through my head. The game was close throughout the whole game, so I was just worrying about the team winning and trying to get into the end zone. When I did get in there, I was a little bit relieved. We got the W and that’s all that matters.”
On the first time Greenberry met O’Korn.
“The first time I met him I believe we were playing UTEP. I think he came on a visit. He came to the sideline, and I shook his hand. He is a little bit mature for his age, and he is a good kid. He’s a real confident kid, and we trust him with everything we’re doing so we just go out there and execute what we have to do.”
On his chemistry with O’Korn
“A couple of weeks ago, we did a lot of time on the field throughout the summer running routes. I guess that paid off. He’s in rotation now, so I’m looking for the ball every time. As long as we have a quarterback, that’s what matters to me. But he is a real good kid. Most quarterbacks will just take the sack but he keeps the play going. He scrambles just like he did in my touchdown play. That was a scramble play. I didn’t even know the ball was coming to me he just made the play. Coach teaches us that if you have a low route, you should go deep, and if you have a high route to come back. We just trust he will get it there because he has a rocket."
On the rivalry between University of Houston and Rice
“Coach Levine takes this game very personally. We just went out there and had to get the win for him. It’s the Bayou Bucket. It’s one of the biggest rivalries there is.”
On the surprise onside-kick
“It caught me totally off guard. I was kind of just standing there to be honest. He just kind of kicked it with his left foot backwards, so I didn’t even really have a chance to try to make an effort to get the ball.”
On playing inside (this year) versus playing outside (last year)
“Well, it did give me an opportunity to make my receptions, but at the same time I’m there to get the big blocks off our running backs, and that’s pretty much what I’m focused on. I know I’ll get the ball. I just have to focus on plays when I don’t have the ball coming.”
On how Greenberry’s mindset changes
“My mindset never changes. I’m always looking for the big play. Greg is in there, and he certain plays designed for him. He has a different option as well from his position. If the plays not there, you just get what you can get.”
On what the 3-0 start means for the season
“It means a lot to me. Coming off of last year was kind of tough, so we’re really hyped about this season.”