Nov. 19, 2008
HOUSTON HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"I thought last week's game was a very good win for us. Anytime you score 70 points, that's a team win. That's not just the offense. It's also the special teams and the defense getting us the ball back. It was just a very good effort by our team. There were a lot of accolades and awards given last week. Anytime you get those individual and team awards it really helps give us national recognition, which in turn helps out our university. It was a good win for us, but the truth of it is, it was a West division win we really needed to have. We are 2-0 now in this short four-game season. We have game number three this week and we've already moved on."
"When you look at UTEP, you really see a team that's in a very similar situation as us. I see a team that has really improved. They are a much different football team than they were in the first three games of the year. Trevor Vittatoe is a good player. He's an excellent thrower and can move around. I think he was a little nicked up at the beginning of the year. Last week, just in time, he had a season-high performance, throwing for 410 yards. He really makes them go.
"They have not one, but two really good receivers. Chris Adams is averaging right at 21 yards per catch. They really spread it around and throw the ball all over the field. Their biggest improvement has been on defense. From the beginning of the year until now, they are a completely different defensive team. Over the last two weeks, they are plus nine in the turnover margin. They have seven interceptions over the last two weeks, and I think that's why I say they are a little like us. Osia Lewis is the new defensive coordinator. Like any transition, it has taken him some time to get guys going. Obviously, over the last couple of weeks they have really figured out what they are doing. With seven interceptions and being plus nine in the turnover ratio, they're number one in the league.
"All you have to do is turn on the tape to see that this team is hungry and has gotten better. They are 5-5 and one game out in the West and from being bowl eligible. For me, this game will be a little different because Mike Price gave me my first job in football 20 years ago at Washington State. Just watching the tape, they do all sorts of things on special teams. He's faked several punts and onside kicked three or four times this year, so he'll do anything. They are playing very well. We're going to have to continue to play well this week to win the game."
On quarterback Case Keenum and his football intelligence
"More than anything else, he is what you see. His personality has really helped our younger players because he is so calm and steady. If anything, I've been prodding him to let some of it out. Coach Dana (Holgerson) talks about how maybe his biggest strength could be his biggest weakness, because he is so smart. He can over analyze sometimes. But that's okay, because you don't want a quarterback that doesn't think about what he's doing and just throw the ball all over the place. His personality has really helped our offense, particularly with the younger players. He and Mark Hafner have really helped settle down the guys on the perimeter who haven't played much. They have really gelled together and he's helped keep them together just with his attitude."
On if he feared a let down against the Miners after last week's big win
"All we're talking about is this week. UTEP is coming in here to win. Whenever you win, the next game becomes that much more important because of what's at stake. To me and to this team, this game on Saturday is every bit as important, if not more important, than last Saturday's game because of what's happened. Saturday was big, but this week is bigger because of what's at stake. Winning makes each game more important, no matter who you're playing. You see that every Saturday, if you don't show up that way, you're going to get beat."
QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
On UTEP and their interceptions
"They are able to get a lot of interceptions. That is the key to any game. That was key for us last week. That was big for us. We were able to have good ball security, and we were able to take some away from them. This is key for any game."
On the win over Tulsa
We are playing really good football right now. We are very confident, and we have a good schedule during the week to prepare for the game this weekend. We did that last week and we are going to continue to do that this week. We will use what we did last week, this week, and continue rolling. It is a good plan and it will be a good football game this week."
On how big the game is this week
"This is a big game for us. We put ourselves in a really good position, exactly where we want to be. UTEP is going to come in playing hard. Anyone in Conference USA is a talented opponent. They still have a chance for the hunt, so we will have to approach this week, as if it is as big, if not bigger than the game last week."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Sebastian Vollmer
On how hard it was adjusting to Houston
"I remember when I first got here, not being able to communicate. My experience has been awesome though. Looking back, it went by really quick. It took me a good semester or two to pick up the language, make friends and play football the right way."
On the UTEP defense
"They are a good team. They are similar to Tulsa, but they do more. They try to confuse the offensive line. They may shift and do different things. We have to think about what the guy in front of us is doing and where we have to block. Communication will be the key for the offensive line against UTEP."
On losing SirVincent on the offensive line to an injury this season
"It is a roller coaster ride. I see our chance to be in the Conference Championship game, which is what the whole team is working for, but on the other hand, I feel bad for SirVincent Rogers. We are great friends. We had worked out hard in the spring and summer and we talked about the season last year about how we need to get it together this year. So it was hard to see my friend go down, especially his senior year. It is tough, but as a team we have to keep working hard and keep fighting."
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