Houston 50, Southern Miss 43

Oct. 31, 2009

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2009 Houston Cougars Football Postgame Quotes
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (5-4 * 3-2) at Houston Cougars (7-1 * 3-1 C-USA)
Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 * John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium * Houston, Texas

On the game
"Every week you see wild games and you hope you're not part of it. It's how you finish that situation. Our guys didn't panic, we made enough plays to win and that's the bottom line. This whole thing pays off on results. Our goals are still ahead of us and we're still tied for first in the west. We still have a chance to achieve everything we planned to.

On special teams:
"I've been saying for the last three weeks that our special teams are great. Before we came into this game, we had blocked a punt, blocked a field goal and returned a kick for a touchdown within the last two weeks. It was more than just today, it's been coming. When you lose starters and you replace them with special teams guys like Phillip Steward, you start to decimate your special teams. We've got a bunch of new guys in there and three or four weeks ago it was a little subpar, but now they're getting used to it and playing well. They're playing very hard, our schemes are good. I was happy to see A.J. Dugat make some good decisions and that got him going. Carrier and Fendi were both big. It was hard to describe giving up a touchdown but change the momentum by running back a blocked extra point. It's not what we wanted to do but it changed the momentum. I think it says something about team playing as a team."

On Southern Miss
"Southern Miss has the number one defense in the league. They're a good football team and the most talented team in our league. We had some uncharacteristic mistakes - personal fouls and turnovers. Those turnovers led to points. We gave them more possessions than we should have. Our defense was effective early in the game but we kept giving their offense the ball back. They had some good players too. We gave them two or three more possessions than we should have and that created the points."

On Case Keenum:
"Keenum's level of play establishes an attitude for our whole team. If we're behind, we're going to win the game and if it's close we're going to win that game. I don't think there's any doubt on our whole team. Case was talking about two different plays about how we were going to score a touchdown. He was looking at the big picture. It's really comforting to the players and he believes that."

On the home crowd:
"The fans hung in there in the end. They all left after Carrier scored on the first play of the second half last time. I guess our players didn't like that so we wanted to keep it close until the last play of the game and keep everyone here."

On the last drive:
"Our two-minute drill is really our offense. We really need to work on slowing things down."

On James Cleveland and other junior college transfers:
"He's what we looked for in addition to our offense. He's an older, mature, stronger guy who has played in big games and big stadiums, and brings a different attitude to our offense. We have lots of speed on the perimeter but not a whole bunch of size. He's always in the middle catching the difficult balls. Today he showed that he could get out and run. Everyone jokes around with him about that and he said if he ever gets a chance to run, watch out. It was kinda funny, he refused to go out of bounds. He cut back a couple times and got some extra yards. He's a tough guy.

"When you talk about filling the pieces in junior college, I don't think we could have done any better than we we did. Three of the four junior college guys are starting - Jackie Candy got hurt in the spring. Dean and Watts have gone unnoticed which is a compliment when you're an offensive lineman and they're our starting tackles.

"Case had a ton of time and that's a credit to them. People say that they're junior college guys so they're experienced but they're still first year starters. They've done a good job. Coach Anderson, McKinney, Phillips, Levine and the rest of the staff have done a great job getting them ready. No body ever notices them but that's really the best compliment for an offensive lineman."

On the game winning play:
"It's a scheme that we use. We try to draw someone offsides and then it's a free play for the offense. Even if they intercept it, we'll still get five yards."

On Matt Hogan:
"That's another guy who is doing great things for us on special teams. He's kicking field goals and extra points and hasn't missed one yet. He got an opportunity and competed in practice and now our team has confidence in them. That's an example of what's going on. You earn your position and then you have the right to defend it. Right now he's done more to defend his position, he's our place kicker."

On Charles Sims and Bryce Beall:
"We have two great back. Sims is becoming an all-purpose back. Bryce is still going to continue what he does. Right now, we don't have to hang our hat on one guy. That's only going to help us win. Bryce was the newcomer of the league last year. Just because he isn't putting up the numbers means there's anything wrong with him. Sims is just playing at a higher level right now. Bryce will be fine. I guarantee before the season is over we're going to need Bryce to make some plays and I guarantee that he will deliver."

On dealing with a lot of momentum changes:
"Craziness is a good word for it. We went back and forth, and our defense went really hard. Southern Miss is a good football team. They're a group of talented guys. No. 5 (DeAndre Brown) he's quite the specimen. I'm going to remember his because he's a good football player.

"Those are the fun games when you get to go back and forth. We were moving the ball and they were doing the same."

On the play of wide receiver James Cleveland:
"James does a good job of getting open. He's running his routes well and getting open often. I like throwing it to guys who like having the ball and who like getting open. If you are open most of the time I'm probably going to look your way. He does a good job of that. Over the middle passes, on the flats, and he's my bail out on the hot routes a lot of times too. We're doing a great job of getting on the same page over this past summer and fall."

On being relaxed:
"I don't know if we were relaxed. Last week we may have been too relaxed in the second half. We kind of lost the eagerness to be out there. We've only have 12 games guaranteed, and we have to go out with each one because we work 365 days a year and we only get 60 minutes for those 12 days to showcase what we're working on."

On being in an offensive hurry:
"We're always in a hurry on offense. We're trying to get where we need to be. We had three timeouts, which helped us out a bunch to save those until the end. A lot of our offense was able to get out of bounds in a hurry. We were able to run whatever play we wanted to with three timeouts. Some guys made some big plays like blocking down field and catching and getting out of bounds. We got lucky with the facemask penalty, which gave us good field position."

On if he remembers ever playing in such a crazy game:
"Off the top of my head I can remember one when I was a freshman at Iowa. It was triple overtime. It was just back and forth, every drive. I just appreciate the guys who came through for us. Fendi blocked two big kicks for us. You take two points from us and give them to them it could have been a completely different ball game.

On what it feels like to win a close game like this one:
"A game like this isn't just won today. It starts months and months ago. The defense didn't produce the stop everyone was looking for, but they got the stop when it mattered. They stopped the hail mary. It shows the weeks of preparation and the camaraderie we built over the summer."

HOUSTON SOPHOMORE SAFETY Nick Saenz On the fourth quarter
"We had to step up and make the plays we need to make, giving our offense the chance to get the win. All we needed was one stop, and we kept getting chances to get back in the game."

On blocking an extra point
"Coach (Tony) Levine did a really good job with the stop report and we watched a lot of film on the kicker. He told me that there will be opportunity to get a block. I went out there and tried to make something happen."

On creating chances to come back in the fourth quarter:
"They have scheme and coaches too. We're not going to be able to stop everybody but that's why we are a team. We have to work together but sometimes we can't stop them. That's why we have to depend on our offense so that they can create plays."

On his team's performance
"Our guys fought until the last second like I knew they would. We said we were going to win the game in the fourth quarter. We put ourselves in position and it was close but we just couldn't get it done. I think we have a lot inside of us. The guys are disappointed. They fought extremely hard until the end. They never gave in and I'm proud of the way they played. I don't question their fire. They'll fight and they'll practice hard and we'll be ready for the next one."

On the Cougar offense
"They're the best in the country. They're number one in the nation. We knew they were good. We knew they were going to make some plays but we also knew we were going to make some plays. We just ran out of time, that's all that happened. We're counting on meeting them in December. December 5, we're counting on meeting Houston again."

On the play of quarterback Martevious Young
"He played the whole game. He exceeded my expectations. He played with poise and made plays. We dropped one that was really hard when we got down in the redzone and we didn't get any points out of it. He played a great game."

On the play of receiver Gerald Baptiste
"Gerald (Baptiste) has been playing great for us all year. He's the leader in that group. He always plays hard no matter if he gets the ball in the game or not. He's a great team player. They took some other guys away today and they left him open. He made every play he had the opportunity to make."

On Houston quarterback Case Keenum
"He's a great quarterback. He's the best quarterback we'll face this year. He's thrown for more yards than anyone quarterback in the country. He's a great player and you have to give them credit, they're a good team. My hat is off to Houston."

On the loss
"We still have three conference games left, so we need to keep our heads up, focus and get ready for the next one."



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