Nov. 4, 2007
2007 Houston Cougars Football Postgame Quotes
SMU Mustangs (1-8, 0-5 C-USA) at Houston Cougars (6-3, 5-1 C-USA)
Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007 * John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium * Houston, Texas
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Art Briles
"It was a good tough win against a team that play us extremely hard, just like everybody else, because we understand that we have an `X' on us. You have to give SMU credit. They came in here and played relaxed, played with some emotion and our guys challenged that and overcame what they (SMU) brought. I think we earned some respect. I don't think the respect was there in the beginning of the game and some pre-game activities, but I think we earned some respect as the game went on."
On expecting SMU to come out and play hard
"We weren't concerned with that, we were concerned with how we responded. We can't control them, we just try to control us. It was a good win, great crowd for a Sunday night. I'm really proud of our student body and our fans for coming out and supporting us and ESPN got to see the University of Houston win a football game. That's a big deal, only college football game in the nation tonight.
On Justin Willis and his play making abilities
"Willis is a good player, good players make plays. We have good players too and they make plays. It's just part of the game, everybody has good players on their team and you just hope you have more than they have. Our guys did a good job of hanging onto a win because we should have put them away on the opening drive of the second half and we didn't do it. We let them get a little excited and get a little momentum and then we had to fight back and win it in the end."
On Anthony Alridge carrying the ball over 30 times during the game
"We don't like for him to carry the ball that much. We would love to have 16-22 carries for him but it's crunch time. It's time for you to lean on the people that can help motivate others and that's what Anthony does. He's a clutch player and he's done a great job for us. The offensive line did a great job too. It feels good to know that our players our going to respond when they're called upon, not just Anthony but all of them."
HOUSTON SENIOR WIDE RECIEVER Donnie Avery
On underthrown ball that could have gone for touchdown
"We could always talk about the should've, could've, would'ves, but we got positive yards off it, and that's all that matters."
On playing in front of a national audience on ESPN
"It was exciting. We worked hard for it. We came out tonight and we played. I had 100 yards, Anthony Alridge had 128 and Case Keenum had 26 yards rushing. The defense came through in the clutch and stopped them when they needed to be stopped. We just went all out there today."
HOUSTON SENIOR RUNNING BACK Anthony Alridge
On his touchdown pass
"Man, it felt great to throw that touchdown. I've been looking for that all year long. It felt great coming out and he caught it. I learned from Case Keenum and Blake Joseph, they're some good people to learn from."
On what SMU did defensively to keep Alridge's running game slow in the first half
"They stacked the box like they always do, like everybody in the conference. It's fun. I enjoyed the competition. They make it hard for me but my teammates play harder. When I'm getting hit, they come through in the clutch like Jeron (Harvey), DA (Donnie Avery) and Case (Keenum). They provide big yardage and I do what I have to do in the second half.
On whether or not the Cougars were expecting SMU to play as hard as they did tonight
"We definitely expected it. They were either going to do one of two things, they were either going to fold because their coach got fired or they were going to be fired up and want to go out with a bang. They wanted to go out with a bang and what other way to do it than against Houston. We are the defending Conference Champions and they wanted our heads. They just can't have it though. We're a better team, more physical and we had more speed and the best team won tonight.
On his 31 carries tonight and whether or not the coaches and planned for his 25+ carries
"He didn't tell me I was going to get the ball, it just rolled that way. I got most of my carries at the end because we were trying to run down the clock. It wasn't just me running the ball the whole game, we were just trying to run out the clock, basically."
On sharing the carries with Terrance Ganaway and their combined success
"He played a great game, he made some plays that most people didn't see he could have been stopped for a loss. He made up for them and he made some great plays. I appreciate him, he's doing a great job for us."
On being the ESPN Sunday night game and showcasing some of the team's talents
"It's the 2-22 connection, everyone needs to see the 2-22 connection, and everybody needs to see the QB-hunter, P-Hunt (Philip Hunt). We have a great team at the University of Houston. We fly around and it's exciting with coach Briles, his offense is ludicrous. It's great being in this situation, it's great being at the University of Houston and it's great to let everybody see us."
HOUSTON FRESHMAN, QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
On Houston's offensive production
"We clicked really well tonight. When it came down to it, the offensive line did a great job blocking. Everyone knows the ball's coming to Anthony Alridge and we still give it to him 31 times and we still execute. We executed very well tonight."
On the team's performance
"The entire offense played well tonight. The running game opened up the passing game. And I really liked the defense, they played very hard tonight. It came down to a couple of big time stops and they came through."
On the Houston defense coming through down the stretch all season
"When our offense isn't clicking, then the defense has to carry us. When the defense isn't there, then the offense has to go. We feed off each other. When one of us is down, then we got to bring the other one back up. I think we've done a great job of that all year."
On Houston's numerous offensive weapons
"We have got a lot of weapons on offense, and I think we do a good job of using them, too. I'm very blessed to have the guys I have around me - offensive line, skill guys, everybody. Running the ball, throwing the ball, we do a good job mixing it up and exploding on the defense.
HOUSTON JUNIOR, DEFENSIVE END Phillip Hunt
On SMU Quarterback Justin Willis' rushing
"We realized from earlier in the week that he was a good runner and we wanted to slow him down and contain him. But, obviously, that didn't happen. We had to rely on the speed rush to carry us through."
On adjusting the defensive scheme during the game
"Going into the game, the game plan was to keep Justin Willis inside the box and bull rush. But after he started picking our secondary apart, it turned into an all out war. We had to do whatever we could to win the game."
On stopping the SMU running backs
"Our D-linemen do a good job holding their gaps. So, they knew they weren't going to have a good night rushing, and they relied on Willis to do most of their running. But, obviously, that didn't work out either."
On the defense recording a couple of late sacks in the game to help seal the victory
"We are veteran leaders and we know what it takes to win games. So when the time calls, we just have to come through in the clutch and do whatever we can to win the game."
SMU HEAD COACH PHIL BENNETT
"I told them at halftime that the second half would be a character check. I told them that they passed with flying colors when they got back in the game. You are not going to win too many games turning the ball over four times in the first half. We have two of them on our goal line and two of them on their goal line. So it was double jeopardy. It wasn't a good situation."
On the performance of QB Justin Willis
"I was proud of Justin. I told him it's like a baseball pitcher when he gives up a couple of home runs; he keeps pitching; you got to forget it. He gave us a chance in the second half ."
On defensive performance
"Defensively we played hard. We are scrappy right now and I appreciate that . These kids this week responded to us and they played hard. Anybody who watched the game would say hey you know what despite everything that has happened I applaud those players for coming out and playing and giving a very good effort. To me, it's totally as I expected that I thought they would do"
On how his team responded to his firing
"The deal with kids I do know this. I do get a feel when they practice with intensity and a focus. I thought that we had that this week. A lot of them were emotional because they put a lot in this program and they put in a lot on what the coaching staff tried to do. They are close to their coaches. I told them I didn't want them to be playing for us (coaching staff) I want them to play for the right reasons. it's a great game with great completion and you represent a great university. I applaud our coaches for coaching the dickens out the players and getting the distractions out of the way."
On Houston's football team
"I really believe they are a Top 25 team. I watched them against Alabama and they should've won that game. Art has done a wonderful job."