Nov. 22, 2008
2008 Houston Cougars Football Postgame Quotes UTEP Miners (5-6, 4-3 C-USA) at Houston Cougars (7-4, 6-1 C-USA) Saturday, Nov. 22, 2008 * John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium * Houston, Texas
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin On the game "Wow is an understatement. First of all, UTEP came in here and played lights out in the first half. They were on a mission. I thought we came out with juice at first, stopping them and blocking a field goal. Then we kicked ourselves with the missed field goal, and the game turned right there. We couldn't overcome all of our mishaps. We couldn't get a turnover. We jumped offsides - just everything possible. You have to give them credit; too, they played very well. There's a lot of respect between both teams. I said earlier in the week that their team was similar to us, with how they've been playing. They played very well tonight and we didn't, but we made enough plays to win."
On quarterback Case Keenum's turnover on the two point conversion "We did everything humanly possible to hurt ourselves mistake wise. Hopefully, we got them all out, because I think we pulled everything we could and still survived to win the game. We had some great efforts by individuals tonight. I think we played all night with effort, just not smartly. We picked up the effort at the end, though."
On Phillip Hunt's sack on to stop UTEP to set up the Cougar's final drive "Anytime, in a game like this, every play could change things. There's no doubt that Phillip Hunt is a game changer. Our good players played at a high level today and carried us through some bad things. I thought our defensive threat at the end of the game all played well. We have to eliminate some things, especially the penalties. It's very frustrating when those things happen, and that's uncharacteristic of us. The last two weeks I have been extremely disappointed with the penalties, because that's not us.
On the comeback wins and Rice "We would rather not have games like this every week. But that's why you play the games. We have the city championship coming up this week, and Rice is playing very well. I think it's great for the city that it could come down to this for the West (division). It's going to be big game, not just for Conference USA, but it's going to be great for the city. It's worth a lot.
On Bryce Beall's performance, as he passed 1,000 rushing yards on the season "Bryce Beall has really come on. He answered some questions that we had early in the year about who would be the running back. He's a good player and he has gotten better every week. He's hanging onto the ball and running physically. I'm really glad he's here. He and Tyrone (Carrier) are young and make mistakes, but I think there has been improvement since day one. The good news is we have them for a while. As disappointed as I am with some of the things that have gone on, especially in a game like this, you're happy as a coach knowing you can improve those things and you are winning and you have a bunch of talented guys who are coming back next year."
HOUSTON SOPHOMORE, QUARTERBACK Case Keenum On the comeback in the fourth quarter "That was huge. We had some championship drives there. Mike Bloesch had some championship stops. That's what it takes for big programs to win big games like this."
On the turnover on the two point conversion "If you watch on film, I had to take off. That was one of the more stupid throws I've ever made. The entire team comes out and makes a stop, so it doesn't really matter. It showed some character from our whole team. The defense made a huge stop that gave us another drive to go score and win the game."
On Bryce Beall's big play "That was huge as well. It wasn't a great check, but Beall just made a play. Good players make good plays like that. You really can't say against UTEP either. Every time we play them it's a shootout, and it was another one tonight."
On the game "We just needed to get things going. The defense was making some good stops, and we weren't putting anything together. You put some drives together in the first half and you don't score in the red zone; we need to eliminate that kind of stuff. We just put it together there in the fourth quarter when we needed to."
On the Rice game "It's another big game. We are 3-0 in our four game season. We are looking forward towards this next week. Playing Rice is always a big game, I like that it is at the end of the season; I'm looking forward to it. Every year you can expect it to be a big game."
HOUSTON SENIOR, SAFETY Kenneth Fontenette On the team's mistakes in the first half "We had a couple busts, but Coach Sumlin has been preaching since last week that we only have one goal in mind. He just wanted us to play with great effort, and to not worry about the scoreboard. That's how we've been playing and that's how we are going to play the rest of the season.
On UTEP's good first half "You just have to keep doing what you've been doing and, hopefully, some of those plays start going your way. In the first half, it seemed like everything that could happened for UTEP, happened for them. We knew we were giving them a lot. They didn't do anything we hadn't seen in practice or in film, we just needed to shut them down and make plays."
On Rice "The Bayou Bucket, it doesn't matter where it's played, it's going to be a battle.
On watching the final pass hit the ground on UTEP's last attempt to tie the game "It was just a big sigh of relief to get out of here with the win. We'll just move on and correct the mistakes we made today."
HOUSTON FRESHMAN, RUNNING BACK Bryce Beall On his 71-yard run touchdown "It was supposed to be another play. He checked and gave me a chance to make a play. The offensive line did a great job. Coach told us to be patient that the cut back would be there. Our line pushed them down and I cut back and it was just me and another player and I had to give him a move and I was off from there. Our wide receiver, L.J. (Castile), was downfield and he made a great block for me. That's the most important thing for a running back, when you have long runs, you have to have good blocking downfield and our receivers did a great job."
On breaking 1,000-yards this season "I guess the pressure is off of me now because people have been asking me when are you going to get that 1,000th yard. And I think that I pressed too hard last week trying to make the big play. Coach McKinney, our running backs coach, told me all week to stop trying to make big plays. Sometimes a two-yard gain is going to setup the big play. At first it was tough getting running lanes out there, but as we kept sticking with it, I found a couple of lanes and was I was able to run the ball successfully in the fourth quarter."
On being down 19 points in the third quarter "Somebody needed to make a big play, and Tyron (Carrier) did that for us. His long touchdown [reception] really woke us up. I wanted to be the next person to make a big play."
On the last regular-season game against Rice "It's for a chance to play in the conference championship. This game is big, especially for our seniors. I know if I was a senior I would like to leave with a chance to play for a ring."
HOUSTON SENIOR, DEFENSIVE END Phillip Hunt On his sack at the end of the game "It was an emotional moment and I know I had to make a play for my team so we could have a game winning drive. I did just that."
On containing UTEP's quarterback Vittatoe "The key is staying in your rushing lanes and squeezing the pocket and make sure he doesn't get too many rushing yards on us. We came out flat in the first half, but we battled back in the second half to come back."
On the defensive effort against UTEP "Everyone is a play maker in college. We just have to try our best to defend them and we did so tonight."
On the Rice game "This is great for our team confidence. Our young guys rallied behind our seniors today and our seniors just upped the attitude and we just had the will to win. We are going to prove it next week too that we have the will to win."
On the fans support "The fans were great. When we asked them to get rowdy for us we just waved our hands and they just got up and started stomping and hollering. It creates a lot of havoc for the oppoising team because the quarterback can't get the signals out. The offense isn't as efficient when you have the crowd rallying behind the defense."
UTEP HEAD COACH MIKE PRICE
On his thoughts on the game There are a lot of plays that could have been and should have been, on both sides. I think they were off the first half to be honest with you. We were running around and pressuring them, trying to make plays. They sprinkled the run in there very effectively and the screens, which we worked on all week, probably more that we statistically should have. They really killed up with the screen. They have got players and are led by a real competitive young man and a bright coach. They are going to be a factor in Conference USA for a long time, as long as Kevin Sumlin is here.
On the performance of receiver Kris Adams We had some really good performances by some kids and Kris is just playing lights out since halfway through the year so that looks good for the future.
On the start of his team "Our offensive line was really banged up and patch worked together. I'm proud of this team and the guys. They showed a lot of character and a lot of heart but just came up short. This one really hurt out team to have a chance to win and let it slip through our fingers. But I still love these guys and have a lot of pride for this team and my feelings about Houston have not changed any, I still feel they are one of the best teams in the league."
On how his team will respond after tonight's game "I am not worried about how we will play the next game because this team has got a lot of character and heart. We will look and see how the scores in Conference USA come out and we will see how we come out. We might have a better shot than I think we have if we beat East Carolina. It's a long road trip and it's an away game and we all know how hard it is to win on the road in Conference USA. It's not like we played bad tonight, we played with a lot of heart. WE just came up short because they made more big plays than we did."
On if there were any points he thought they had the win "There were a lot of points where I thought we had them, but knowing their history and watching their games, we knew they were a good fourth quarter and second half club. I thought the way we started the third quarter was just what we needed to do but we just couldn't keep it up."
On the Cougars big plays in the second half "The long run hurt, we had a lot of chances to make tackles. Carrier had that long one as well and to think that little guy is going to be around for three more years I don't know how we are going to deal with it. Maybe we need to send him to the Olympics or something."
Defensive Back Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith "Their quarterback is a good player and he did a good job of finding his open receivers."
On the teams feeling during the second half
"I would say we got a little comfortable toward the end and we did not finish well and that defiantly hurt us tonight. We knew it was going to be this type of game and a shootout, but we just did not execute when the time came."