Nov. 3, 2009
Listen to Coach Sumlin
HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"After the game, as a coach, you watch wild games around the country and you hope that you're not a part of that but we were. The good thing is that we won the game. We did something, which I would term uncharacteristic of this team in the last month: we turned the ball over, which we haven't done in recent weeks at all. We turned it over three times and gave up big plays on defense. We had more penalties than we've had in a long time, particularly personal fouls.
"When you do those things, you put yourself in a hole, especially against teams like Southern Miss who is a very talented team. You can win a game in many different ways. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we've seen our defense help our offense in some situations, our running game help our passing game and, certainly in the last three weeks, our kicking game came to the forefront and became a solid part of our team. It's really helped us by scoring points and creating turnovers and possessions for our offense.
"That's what you're looking for. Not everything may be clicking on a certain day, but we've had at least two of the phases every week be pretty good. That's what Saturday was about, finding a way to win. There were some great individual efforts in that game recognized by some more conference awards.
"This week, obviously it's given us a chance to get through the two-game home streak and try to get a little more healthy. We're back on the road against Tulsa. It's another Western opponent that we need to prepare for. We have to be ready to play and ready to win in order to achieve our goals, which starts with winning the West."
On Fendi Onobun:
"From the time he got here, he was on the right track. He was making progress coming from basketball. He had a high-ankle sprain on the first or second day we were in pads, which set him back by four or five weeks. It hasn't been a matter of whether he was talented enough or progressing enough to play for us. It was a matter of his injury. He missed a month a couple of weeks before the first game and the first two or three games completely. He had to get back into the swing of things. You'll see him getting better and contributing every week.
"He was an early signee in basketball and, at that time, Arizona was the one of the top-eight programs in the country. That makes him one of the better athletes in the nation. It's not often that you have an athlete who is 6-6 and 250 pounds walk in the door, so we were more than willing to give him a chance, and he was more than willing to give us a chance. It's worked out. He's a Houston native, and he's back closer to his family. It's an investment on his part both financially and physically to do what he's doing. There is still time for him to get better and he's working on it."
On the success of Houston's walk-ons:
"There's a lot of disadvantages for players of having a new coach walk in on you. One of the advantages is to a guy who maybe has not played. One thing that we've tried to do is create competition at every position and make it known that your playing time is equal to your practice time and what we think you bring to the table to help us win regardless if you were on scholarship, recruited, not recruited or just walked through the door. Since we've been there, we've given a lot of walk-ons scholarships because of that.
"There are a number of guys who have gotten chances this year to come to the forefront like Jaryd (Anderson). Here's a situation of a guy who has hung around and has started the last three games. We have guys who are playing special teams who have worked really hard. That proves that you are trying and putting forth that effort to get a scholarship."
On the culture of the team:
"It's more of an attitude that if I do my job and I can be trusted, then I'm going to get on the field and play. It's coaches attitude that we can win with me. That gives everyone hope. We don't have two locker rooms where we separate the walk-ons for everyone else. That happens at places now.
"When you're in the fourth largest city in the United States, you may have missed a guy along the way. There are some guys that come in and play. If they can come in and contribute, we'll reward those guys. There are some guys on our team that play a lot, and 60 percent of our guys don't know they're not on scholarship. It's the attitude that there is not a separate situation for scholarship guys.
"I have a special place for that because I did that (walked on at Purdue). It's important that people don't look at you in a different light, and you're respected as a player and not a walk-on player."
On playing Tulsa who has lost three straight games:
"They still play hard, and they still have good players. They caught a couple bad breaks. They have a new quarterback who is a little inconsistent. They're defense is still flying around. They still have a couple of different schemes. Damaris Johnson is probably one of the more talented guys in this league. He's second in the country in all-purpose yards. He gets a touch on the ball whenever he can. For whatever reason, they have not been able to get over the hump. They've been close and just haven't made it.
"What I've learned in my time here is that our toughest opponents have been in the conference because we know each other so well. There is not a lot of overlooking factor. We recognize each other, and we see each other's tape all of the time. We have to prepare this week like we have all year and go on the road and win."
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
On the team's progression:
"Teams evolve throughout the year. You can't do the same things every week because other teams will watch your film. People prepare for those plays that you want to run. You have to evolve, change and figure out new ways how to do things."
"We expect to go out there and be successful. We expect to go out there and throw and catch and get upfield. We expect to get those first downs and turn those into touchdowns."
On the last drive:
"Going up and down the field like that is always fun for a quarterback. It may be a little too exciting for some people. It's especially fun with our offense and our playmakers."
They're a good team and you can't take them lightly. There's a lot riding on this game and for the past several years. I know some of their goals include beating Houston. It'll take a good game by us to beat them."
On his calmness:
"I try to have that calm demeanor. I think the quarterback needs to be the steady hand out here. Not too high when things are good and not too low when things are bad. Ultimately my peace comes from the Lord. Knowing that I'm not in control of everything, He is. That's the most important thing."
On his growth under Sumlin:
"I've grown a lot of ways. Looking at previous years of film, I can see a different player out on the field. I like to think I'm a little bit smarter, make better decisions. Physically, I can make some better throws. As a person I've learned a lot on how to handle different situations and environments. "
SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER Tyron Carrier
On first place in the division:
"That's real important for us. We had that mistake at the beginning of the season (losing to UTEP) but we have our destiny in our hands now. We just need to take care of business."
JUNIOR WIDE RECEIVER James Cleveland
On the close game:
"If we score 50 but the other team scores 48, we still get the victory. But you want to stay away from those nailbiters because they can go either way."
On the upcoming opponents:
"It's always humbling that every team is going to give us their best shot. If we just show up, we're going to get beat. That keeps us on the edge and doesn't let us get soft on the inside. We haven't made it there yet. We're well on our way but we're not there yet."
On Case Keenum:
"He has great field awareness. He knows the game and that helps us be on the same page. We see the same things in the defenses, and we understand where the holes in the zone will be.
"We don't huddle too often but before every drive we huddle once. He will look us in the eyes and say `We're going to go score, but first we have to pick up this first down.' Sure enough, we pick up that first down and then later we score.
"We've grown as a quarterback-receiver duo. When I first got here, we were just two individuals. But he's helped me so much to improve my game."
On Case Keenum belonging in the Heisman discussion:
"The numbers speak for themselves, both his stats and his wins. I believe he belongs in New York."
On catching the football:
"When I was little my dad, rest in peace, always told me that if the ball touches your hand, you catch the ball. That's the best place for the ball to hit."
SOPHOMORE LINEBACKER Marcus McGraw
On the Southern Miss comeback:
"I've been on both sides of those types of games. You just have to play out the fourth quarter. Sometimes you win those games, sometimes you lose them."
On his health:
"I know my body is going to get beat up. I just need to get in the training room and the ice tub to help the soreness and try to be as healthy as possible."
On Coach (Larry) Jackson's Strength and Conditioning:
"It is very important and is something you work on year round. We really started it in the spring and he worked us really hard so in the middle of the season we are still healthy."
On continuing the success:
"We just need to try hard every week. When we go out there, we need to have a positive attitude and always be ready for the next opponent. Right now our destiny is in our own hands. Every game is now a big game so we just need to prepare well. At this point in the season you just have to stay focused and pumped for each game."
"I'm sure we are going to attack them a little more and try to make some plays. I know we have some rivalry with them. Last year we beat them and the year before, they beat us. We are going to try to change the pattern this year and try to get a win up there. We know we are going to get a battle this Saturday."
SENIOR SAFETY Tim Mercer
"We know they are going to come out hard. Houston and Tulsa go back many years so we know what to expect. It is a tough environment to play in."
On having pressure:
"Every game is getting more and more important. Every time we win it is also getting more important. We know they are going to give us their best shot. The only thing we can look at, is this Saturday. We will worry about December when it comes."
SENIOR TIGHT END Fendi Onobun
On hearing he was player of the week:
"I was really surprised, as I have never received an accolade of this honor before. Even in Arizona I didn't accumulate the playing time or stats to receive any award."