Dec. 1, 2009
Listen to Coach Sumlin
HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"I want to thank the fans. We had great atmosphere Saturday night. People really underestimate what kind of energy that creates for a team, particularly for a young team like ours. We had a lot of energy when we started the game. The fans can take credit for that, too, because it was a fun atmosphere for our team. Hopefully that will continue to be the case. Our guys enjoyed playing, enjoyed warm-ups and enjoyed the game. We're appreciative about that.
"It was a good win for us. It puts us in good position for this week. You look back on a season at the ups and downs we've been through to achieve one of our goals this week. As a coach, you want to get where you want to be, which is to play for your conference championship. This is a tribute to our players, especially our seniors who were introduced at Senior Night last week. Everybody is on the same page.
"We haven't been perfect but everyone has stuck together and has gotten us to this point. We had a good test for us this week. When you look at this game, people are trying to reduce it to different styles of play but the biggest thing that I see in this game is we're going to face a team that has 28 seniors, more seniors that I have ever coached. These seniors have played in a lot of close games on the road. They're the defending champions, and they're playing at home.
"This is uncharted waters. We're in a situation right now that we have a younger team that is going through some things for the first time. We're going on the road to play a team that is the defending champs, who won on the road last year against Tulsa. They don't make mistakes. They keep the ball in front of them. They create turnovers and score off of that. That's where the game breaks down to me. That's our biggest challenge.
"Right now, I like how we're playing. We're playing at a high level, and we're playing some of the best football we've played all year. If there's ever a time to peak, it would be right now. We've had our share of experiences on the road, going into to places that have been difficult when it comes to crowd noise and atmosphere. Our team has been in those types of places. We've been in some big games so we'll see. These guys have found a way all year to expect those types of challenges. Our guys are excited about this opportunity this weekend."
JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Case Keenum
"They're a big, physical team. There are some big guys up front, some experienced secondary players and a bunch of seniors. We expect them to come out and play well. There will be a good crowd and a great experience. We're going to get their best effort and they will get our best as well."
On playing on the road:
"Playing on the road is tough no matter where you are. I like playing on the road with people who don't care whether they're yelling for you or booing for you. We can feed off that energy as well. We've been in this situation before with hostile crowds and we're not going to dwell on that fact. We'll just go out and play the football that we know how."
On the crowd noise:
"We've played in some big stadiums with some large crowds this season, so I think our silent count should be good to go. We're going to practice it all week and hopefully it's a non-issue on Saturday. This is another chance for us to be in a big game and it's going to be a lot of fun."
On tying school record for most wins in a season:
"I just found that out about that five minutes ago, so that's pretty cool. It's great to just be in the same sentence as those guys who blazed the trail and made the University of Houston who we are. That's for the records though. We're just focused on one game."
On being able to rest the second halves against Memphis and Rice:
"It's nice when you don't have to get hit as many times as normal. The next day you're a lot less tired and you can recover quicker. We were able to rest some guys and get some others some experience, which is very vital to being successful. You need depth and experience to be a successful program. It's always good when you have that and less soreness and injuries is always good too."
SENIOR CENTER Carl Barnett
"All three phases, offense, defense, special teams, played really well. They had our Bucket and we wanted it back. It was a lot of fun winning it in that fashion."
On facing ECU:
"We need to come out and play very physical to get their defense backpedaling a little bit. They're very aggressive up front and so are their secondary players. We need to be more aggressive than them and take advantage of their style of play."
SOPHOMORE WIDE RECEIVER Tyron Carrier:
On the ECU crowd:
"We need to keep the crowd quiet. But we played there last year so we know what to expect. We know how things can go if we don't do our job, so the plan is to make plays."
"They're a really good team. It's not going to be easy to go in there and win. They're a senior team who does not make many mistakes, so we're going to have to play our best game to win."
Brandon Brinkley SENIOR CORNERBACK
On last game against East Carolina:
"They played with a strong offense. We'll just have to force a lot of turnovers."
On last two games:
"It's going to be a really tough game. They're defending champions and they'll be hard to beat at home. We're going to have to prepare really well this week and go out there and give it our all"
On biggest challenge offense presents:
"They have a great quarterback, a great offensive line and two great receivers."
On how you approach upcoming game:
"Last year we got really close to playing in the championship game and I took it for granted. Everybody knows East Carolina has a great team, but I can't wait to go in there and show them what we have."
On finishing senior season:
"Every senior wants to finish our their season strong, so it would be nice to begin with a conference championship and end with a conference championship."
On advice to younger players:
"I think we speak for ourselves. It doesn't matter if people call us a young team. We've all played 12 games. We all have a lot of experience and our younger guys probably do things better than a lot of guys who have been playing longer."
On improvements in upcoming game:
"I think we just need to keep on doing what we've been doing. The last few weeks we've been doing great at creating a turnover and getting the ball back to Case Keenum. We just need to play with high energy. We need to be excited and have fun."
On going on the road for next two games:
"We have fans anywhere we go. We have great fans that travel to see us, and they bring their Cougar spirit anywhere they come to watch us play"
Carson Blackmon SENIOR CORNERBACK
On winning Bayou Bucket:
"We just really wanted to get it back. Beating a rival was awesome. We've been thinking about it for 365 days. It was great to finally get it back."
On how the defense plans to play against ECU offense:
"We are just going to go into the game with a mindset on getting their offense off the field and keep the ball in the hands of our offense. We have to force those turnovers."
On returning to a conference championship game:
"I believe everyone knows what's at stake. We're all going to go out there and give it our all."
On crowd at upcoming game:
"I think it'll make it a more exciting game. We're going into someone else's home and playing for a conference championship. There may be some nerves, but we just have to be ready to come in there and play wherever we go. We could play in Alaska and still be on our a-game."
On younger players:
"I think we've been in a good few games ourselves. The older guys may have age on us, but we have just as much experience."
Marcus McGraw SOPHOMORE OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
On the different playing styles:
"To me it doesn't really matter how different their playing style is. You just have to come in every week willing to learn and willing to change things up. You have to be ready to adapt to their offense. It's going to be a great challenge to go up there and try to adapt to their offense."
On how the winner will be first to win title twice:
"It'll be interesting to go up there and fight for it. The way I look at it, you have two great teams that are going to have to duke it out."
On regaining the type of playing from earlier this season:
"We have a lot of confidence going back into this championship game. As a defense, we put in a lot of hard work. We've been playing our best football yet."