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    Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
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    Press Conference: Houston vs. UNLV

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    Nov. 25, 2008

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    HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
    Opening Statement
    "It's a great and exciting time for the University of Houston and for the city of Houston. The Bayou Bucket game is coming up and it's great. It's the last game of the year and a rivalry game and it should come down to a game that has a lot of different things on the line and a lot of implications. Both teams have played very well this year and have put themselves in position to have a lot to play for."

    On the UTEP game
    "Last week, was a really, really tough and hard fought victory. A lot of people want to talk about how poorly we played in the first half or the first three quarters but if you go back and look at it, UTEP played exceptionally well. They were extremely well prepared. They played a game without any turnovers and capitalized on some errors we made and they were here to win the game. They were one game out of the West and were playing for a bowl bid and you saw that in their effort. They have played that way quite a bit this year. They put 43 points on the board against Rice so its not like they weren't used to scoring points.

    We had some guys that had some exceptional individual efforts in the game. In the fourth quarter, we played very well as a team. Obviously, our defense rose up and made some stops. Our seniors on defense, Tate Stewart and Cody Pree, in particular later in the game, really played well. We had some big plays made by a lot of guys on defense.

    Offensively, we got some guys in space and created some situations. We protected well and our quarterback got on a roll. We caught the ball and made plays afterwards and that's what you have to do to win. We made some more plays in the end to win the game and that's all you can say about that. It was an exciting game, but believe me I would rather them all not be like that. But it's exciting when you win.

    On the Rice game
    "This week we face a different challenge. Rice is 8-3 and they have had an exceptional season. Their three losses have come against teams that are going to be bowl teams, Texas, Vanderbilt and Tulsa. They have played exceptionally well all year and they are well coached. David Bayliff and his staff do a great job. You watch them play and offensively they are very, very good. They have three really good players and you listen to them talk and they are seniors and they aren't cocky but confident. They set some goals as seniors and they are achieving those goals. Chase Clement and Jarrett Dillard have hooked up for more touchdown passes than anyone in the history of football and as soon as you look at those two guys you have to look at the young man back there catching punts and running up and down the middle of the field. They have three real weapons and you lock on someone and Casey gets loose on you."

    What they have done offensively is be creative and get those guys in situations, particularly one on one, where they can out athlete someone or get them in a situation where a guy has no help and they get wide open. Those guys are making plays for them. They are playing extremely hard on defense and they have a good kicker. They are well coached and they run the ball on defense and they play with high energy and effort. There are a lot of reasons to be excited and if shows that you can have two good football teams in the city of Houston.

    It's a game that our guys have worked hard and clawed our way back to where we need to be. We have put ourselves in a position to control our own destiny, which we did a couple weeks ago and we've seemed to handle that pretty well. From looking at practice yesterday and being around these guys they are pretty excited about this weekend, just like me."

    On the team's ability to come from behind and win
    "It just shows that the game isn't over. Our guys know that, our defense knows that and our players know that, particularly around the offensive line. We have proven that. It might give us a little bit of a bump at the end of the game but, trust me, I wish that wasn't the case. I wouldn't have to worry about them coming back all the time."

    On having different players step up during the season
    "C.J. Cavness has come in and this time of year what separates teams more than anything is that your good players and your marquee players need to continue to play at that level and then, because of injury and moving players around, there is going to be another group of guys that may not have been as involved earlier in the year, that step into rolls that they play a lot more or they start. C.J. is one of those guys that is playing great. There hasn't been any drop off and he bring the same intensity level and he runs to the ball. Chris Pilot came into the game on special teams and he had four unassisted tackles on kickoffs and another assist. This is a guy that hadn't played much this year and came back a couple weeks ago and has really been a difference for us on special teams. Down the stretch, in any league, if you get to the last four games, the difference in some of those games are going to be the guys that may not have played as much early in the year. Now, not only are they playing but they are starting."

    SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
    On the game against Rice

    "It is always a great game with Rice. Being in the same town, a lot of the guys know each other and it means a lot to both teams. It is going to be an exciting atmosphere. There will be a lot of people there and it is going to be a fun game."

    On Rice's offense
    "There are a lot of good offenses this year in Conference USA and they have one of them. Chase, Dillard and Casey are really great on offense. On offense, we need to make sure we are productive when we have the ball in our hands."

    On the Bayou Bucket game at the end of the season
    "I talked to a couple of Rice guys, and I like it at the end of year. There is a lot riding on it, and it really determines the West side. It really is going to be a good game."

    On getting on the board early
    "It is very important and it is something we have been working on all season. We need to make sure we start fast, execute early and not dig ourselves in a hole that we will have to get out of. We plan to come out of the gates early."

    SOPHOMORE RUNNING BACK Andre Kohn
    On the game against Rice

    "This is a big game. We are really excited. The bucket, bragging rights and the Conference Championship are on the line. We are not looking past this game. Rice is a good team with an 8-3 record and they have a solid defense. We look forward to keeping the Bayou Bucket, representing our team and Conference USA."

    On how important the Rice game is
    "Since I have been here we haven't lost to Rice, but they are a great team. They have lost to three great teams. It literally all comes down to this, Conference USA West, the bucket, and bragging rights. It all comes down to this."

    On the offense of the two teams and the game last year
    "Case has been outstanding and Rice is putting up some records as well. It will be the clash of the titans. Last year's game was a shootout, too. Quick (Anthony Alridge) rushed for 200 yards and Donnie Avery caught for over 300 yards. It was just exciting, you can't add much more for a college football game except for a chance to host the conference championship game."

    On how important it is to come out early
    "That is very important and our coaches preach that to us every week. Before practice starts we do a little offensive vs. defensive challenge. They give us a situation, like third and two and we have to come out and convert and whoever loses has to do 100 up and downs. Our coaches are really preparing us to come out early."


     

     

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