Nov. 19, 2011
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HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"It was a very emotional game to start with being Senior Night. With some guys who had put in a lot of work over the course of however many years that they have been here. The emotion may have hurt us a little bit offensively, we were jittery and there were tears. It helped us defensively, though. We had a great effort defensively, only allowed seven points and our third-down percentages were great. It's great for our team, a great atmosphere, with (ESPN) GameDay being here, with all the stuff around this program right now. For our guys to be able to block all of that out and play and continue to win, I cannot say enough about it."
On playing in a hard-fought game
"We were able to do some things early in the game (on defense), third down, to get off the field. We talk about third-down percentage on defense, and our third-down percentage on offense, points and points allowed. We've made dramatic changes in third-down defense this year. We've improved defensively. We're not anywhere near where we want to be, but that improvement has given us confidence to play in those types of situations. It was good for us to be in a game like that going into Tulsa. The last five or six weeks our guys have been standing on the sideline in the third quarter. So for them to be able to play the whole game and really push themselves is good because of what we want to accomplish these next few weeks. These next few weeks are championship weeks."
On linebacker Sammy Brown
"Sammy hurt his ankle early against Tulane last week and didn't really practice until yesterday. Thursday, we made that decision that he knew what he was doing. We don't ask him to do a whole lot except rush the passer. He was a real difference maker in this game. The difference with Sammy this year is his discipline. He made great plays for us last year, but he also hurt us. He worked really hard in the off-season on his conditioning and strength. He's a talented player and Coach Bryant has done a great job with him, working on his pass rush moves but also making him a more disciplined player. Our goal for Sammy at the beginning of last year was to make him a complete player, more than just a pass-rusher, and he is on his way towards that. This time of year everybody is nicked up, you've got to go out there and compete if it's within you."
On the wind as a factor for the passing game
"We gambled and took the wind coming out of the second half. I thought it was important for us to get jump-started offensively, instead of maybe waiting until the fourth quarter. It was a factor particularly in the kicking game. They were able to move the ball and effectively give us some long fields in the first half. We weren't able to score as many touchdowns in the red zone as we would have liked. They did a great job of tackling in the open field in the first half, it was one-on-one and they got us on the ground. They played well. They weren't going to be intimidated and we knew that coming into this week. June (Jones) does a great job. They are well-coached in all phases. We knew what we were going to get into."
On moments he had with the seniors before the game
"A lot of it was personal by nature. I am extremely appreciative of those guys. Case has been a starter since we've been here, even though we didn't recruit him. There are a few other fifth-year guys who accepted us as coaches, accepted a change of personality and continued to win. The other guys are guys we recruited and who came here with a vision. They are very driven right now. With the addition of Michael Hayes and Sammy Brown out of junior college who are seniors, you can see their impact on this team. They came into a situation where they were going to start and be impact players and they have done that. Sometimes that can upset a team but our guys get that, the best people play. The guys who work during the week (will) play. I really appreciate every one of them and what they've accomplished so far. We want to be in the Top 25, and we want to win championships. For a lot of them, there was no proof that would happen, but they believed in it. It's those guys that make it happen. Everybody's goal at the beginning of the year is to win every game, but ultimately it's the players that make that happen."
On being one of two undefeated teams
"We can't get caught up in where we should be, what (could) happen. What we do have is the mindset that if we win, we will not be ignored. Seven weeks ago we weren't even in the rankings, so it's hard for us to complain right now. We recognize the process and it all gets back to us. If we win, people will recognize our efforts."
On Keenum's comeback
"There was a tremendous amount of pressure on him mentally to handle things. It's not just the pressure of rehab, it's the pressure to be as good as you were (before the injury). He's a strong guy, physically and mentally. He took a lot of shots tonight that I didn't want him to take. That's where he is as a competitor. He's going to do whatever it takes. He's a complete football player."
On cornerback D.J. Hayden
"D.J. makes plays. He is a fast closer, he's very athletic. He's a great addition to our program... he plays with energy. All this enables us to do a lot with him as a coverage guy."
On realizing when Case would come back fully healthy for this season
"Maybe a week to 10 days before the first game. He didn't do anything in the spring. We went through two-a-days and he practiced more. He slid around in the pocket for the first time and we knew he felt comfortable. He's a mature guy. He has come back this year and played at the same level or even higher than last year."
On playing Tulsa on a holiday week and on a Friday
"We are used to it. We've played three Thursday games. I told them we've even got an extra day. It's a little different because of Thanksgiving, but there is no Thanksgiving for football players and coaches. Our guys are used to it. We understand preparation during a short week."
SENIOR QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
On being a warrior on the field against SMU
"We have to give it to SMU. That was the best defense that we played all year. They came out and played extremely well and really hard. They made us earn everything we got tonight. It was a rough win, but that's why you play football. It was a good game between two really good football teams."
On how this game will help prepare for Tulsa
"The level of play at the end of the year steps up, and we're stepping up. We're going to prepare the same way we did this past week."
On breaking another record
"Another record is definitely awesome. It's not a small thing, and you have to give everybody credit. It's not just one person. It was a great overall team win."
On the defense
"That was the best defense I've ever seen played here. Hats off to our defensive coaches. The defense played extremely well tonight. I'm very proud."
On how Senior Night affected the game
"There were a lot of factors going on this week with different distractions, we did a pretty good job of handling them all, Senior Day being one of them."
On BCS standings
"I hope we made a pretty good case. That's the only thing we can do. We can't argue our case on different things. Our way of talking is the way we play. I hope people don't make up their minds about us before we play. I hope they watch us play and are impressed. The only way we can change people's minds is by the way we play."
On his emotions
"I'm trying to keep my emotions in check. I know there's more at stake than what's already happened. Right now, you have to treat it like a playoff. The only thing that really matters is this week."
On Justin Johnson's fourth-down play action
"That was a huge play. Justin is a great utility guy. He does everything for us. On fourth down, I wouldn't want go to anyone else at that situation."
On this Senior Day compared to last year's Senior Day
"Last year's Senior Day was pretty crappy. I took as much joy in it as I could but this one's a whole lot sweeter. On a day like this when the fans were crazy and showed up early, watching GameDay this morning was awesome. It was a great team win. I couldn't ask for a better Senior Day."
On missed red zone opportunities
"That's definitely something we need to work on. We were really close on a lot of plays. In big games we need to make those plays. We have a great kicker; Matt Hogan did a great job tonight."
On emotions during the 16-yard run
"I don't run a lot. It was a big drive. It was a championship drive."
On not scoring touchdowns on plays
"When it comes down to it, we're going to have to make those plays."
SENIOR LINEBACKER Sammy Brown
On the game plan for SMU
"We just wanted to come out and play hard. We knew they had a good running game. We just wanted to come out strong and be prepared. We wanted to stop them from making good plays"
On being a major contributor
"It felt good. The team played good coverage. It allowed the quarterback to get the ball, so I could get sacks."
On being ready for the option plays by Cole Beasley
"They did it against Navy, and we knew that they would do it on us. It was a big stop for us. They usually score a lot, but tonight we were able to stop them. "
On offense getting all the attention
"We do not care about that. We are a team. Our offense is good so they deserve to be recognized."
SENIOR RECEIVER Justin Johnson
On offensive performance
"We had to settle down. We struggled at first and had to kick some field goals. There are just little things we need to work on and execute. We just need to relax even when we are not scoring and trust that we will come around. "
On Case Keenum
"His performance is self-explanatory. He gives you the right looks and the right throws. He shows for himself."
JUNIOR LINEBACKER PHILIP STEWARD
On publicity to the offense
"The offense deserves the attention. We do appreciate the defensive attention we get and take it in. We just go out there and play every night and let our actions speak for themselves."
On not receiving respect
"We don't care about respect. We just go out there and perform. Tonight, the offense was struggling, so we were able to step up and make some plays. :
SENIOR RUNNING BACK Michael Hayes
On the draw play
"It was a draw and a pass play at the same time. I was happy Case decided to give it to me. When I broke past the linebackers, I just told myself not to let anyone stop me.
On overcoming the slow start
"It helped a lot. It was good that we had the field goals. It was good just to score and to keep the momentum."
On a BCS appearance
"We don't want to worry about that now. We just need to focus on beating Tulsa. We need to take it game by game."
SMU HEAD COACH JUNE JONES
On what was going through his mind after the game
"I was just frustrated that we didn't play. We had opportunities in the first half that would have made it a close game. Our kids played really hard and with a lot of emotion. I was disappointed that we didn't score that last touchdown, but all-in-all we just have to go get ready for Rice."
On if he has the players to run the offense
"The kids are playing as hard as they can, but when you play these type games, you have to make every opportunity you can. We had a couple opportunities to score touchdowns and field goals, but we missed them. The bottom line is that we have to keep at it and hopefully we will make those plays every week and not just some of the time."
On not make key plays
"It's frustrating for the kids and the coaches, but you do everything you can do and let the chips fall where they will."
On J.J. McDermott's interception
"It was frustrating. If it was a little over the top, we would have had it. J.J. did a lot of good things, but we just need to do more of them."
On if J.J. McDermott was rattled after the fumble
"I don't think so because we had a long drive after that. When you are playing good football teams, you have to make the plays. We just didn't make the plays offensively, but defensively we played pretty hard. The kids played hard, but it was just one of those days."
On holding Houston to 23 points midway through the fourth quarter
"We scored a touchdown to make it 23-7 but couldn't make it 23-17 with our missed opportunities. When you are playing a good team, you can't give away those type of plays."
On Zach Line not playing
"He would have been able to run the ball. He has more experience, but I like what I saw in Rishaad [Wimbley]. Rashaad and Jared [Williams] did some good things. They are only freshman and will continue to get better week-by-week."
On if he thought his team was good
"We are a 500 team, and hopefully we can finish winning seven games. We are not where we need to be to win nine or 10 games, but it's been awhile since we've won six games, and that's where we are at."
On Houston's defense
"They did a good job. They have rallied up and learned the scheme better this year. They are doing a nice job at what they are doing. We could have made it a different game, but we missed the opportunities when we had guys open."
On the successful trick plays
"We've been working on those. We had some trick plays on offense, but we didn't try them because we couldn't control the front."
On Matt Stone's planned bobble
"Frank [Gansz, Sr.] and Stoney talked about not rushing the kick and, when we got the opportunity, we told him to go. We also practiced the return."
On Case Keenum
"He did a nice job. He knows their scheme and is a very competitive kid. He moves around better than most guys in that system."