Gary Barnett: First of all I want to say that I really admire Sonny Lubick for that last series. He went for the win. That was guts and believing in his team.
I really admire his decision down there to do it. I hope I would have the guts to do that. That was coaching without fear. And so I tip my hat to him. I told him that several times.
That was a heck of an effort by their players. And a great effort by a couple of our players on the last play to hang in there.
Probably like lots of coaches we had told our players it was going to take four quarters and 60 minutes. And we just needed to win by one point. They exceeded my expectations – we won by three.
It was a heck of a game up and down. I thought CSU did a great job of making some adjustments and finding some spots to take advantage of our defense. We did a nice job of that.
Early on we did a good job with our offense and we were able to control the ball. Then we sort of got flat. They did some things to cause that, and I probably didn't make enough adjustments to get us back to where we had momentum.
It was an exciting game for everyone to watch. It was exciting for me; I enjoyed every minute of it; every second of it.
We decided to kick the 55-yarder because Mason's been doing that regularly in practice. And we had the wind. I hesitated the first time. I think Coach Hank was a little worried about them maybe getting the ball on the 40-yard line. So when they called a time out it gave me a chance to rethink it, and our kids said, ‘Let Mason kick it.' And they were right. We let him kick it and he nailed it.
And of course Iwuh's touchdown was a big play.
It was an exciting game for our kids. They hung in there. I admire their spirit; and I love their soul and their heart.
I'll take some questions.
Q: Can you comment on the play of Bobby Purify?
GB: Bobby had an outstanding game. I think everybody could see that. We were a little more explosive when he was in the game. I think Daniel (Jolly) getting so many carries is going to be good for us down the road. He's going to learn a lot from this. But Bobby was obviously the guy we could go to and who we could rely on. We felt like we had an advantage in the run game and that's why we stayed with it as long as we did.
Q: Was he running out of gas?
GB: Yeah, Bobby was pretty tired. He actually got dinged early and was having trouble seeing. That's why we rested him in the second quarter as long as we did.
Q: Did you feel good about your chances after Iwuh's interception and touchdown?
GB: You never feel at ease in the CU-CSU game. I was just happy that he ran it back and got it in the end zone. It was so timely.
Q: With all that happened in the offseason, was this one of the more emotional wins for you?
GB: I tend to deal with it season by season. I ‘m not quite sure how to answer that. I feel that every game that you play is pretty emotional. But this one is probably a little more special just because of the way we won it, and won it here at home after everything that happened. I'm really just proud of our players the way they hung in with everything. And our fans were terrific. We might not have won this if we played it at Invesco.
Q: Can you talk about Justin Holland and your defense?
GB: He was just what he's advertised to be. He had a slow start, and they did a good job finding a rhythm for him, and some play selection for him, and then he just put the ball right on the money.
We were close in coverage most of the time, but they did a great job catching the ball. They made a couple great catches, and he made a couple great throws. We were only out of position on two passes that I can remember, but we were usually just a hair short because he's such a great player.
Q: What about the run defense?
GB: I haven't seen the stats but we were pretty effective. We thought coming in that would be the strength of our defense. And we knew that our inexperience in the secondary would be a potential issue for us. We knew we just had to hang in. Early on I think we did a good job. Then as the game went on they solved the problem and came up with some plays.
Q: What was going through your mind on that last drive they had?
GB: Well, we were trying to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback. And every time we had a pressure call, they were in something that we couldn't pressure. They did a good job keeping us out of something we could pressure with. We were trying to solve pass pressure problem and we never really did get it solved.
We just kept talking and encouraging the players. We just had to make a play. Everybody was pretty good in the huddle except they were tired. But there was a real strong sense of belief in there. We didn't know how we were going to do it, but there was a sense that we were going to do it.
Q: Did you expect them to spike it on what turned out to be the last play?
GB: I was prepared for them to spike it on the third down, and thought that would give them time to consider whether to kick if or go for it. I think no matter what they would have gone for it. A lot of times, teams will practice running two or three plays in a row down there, knowing that those type of situations can arise. I thought they looked like they had that pre-called. We were fortunate to make the play.
Q: What did they do differently in the second half to be able to move the ball?
GB: We were never able to get any pressure on them. As a result they were able to throw the ball down the field. Most of those were good throws and good catches. What they did is they went back to the stuff they were doing with Van Pelt, the bootleg stuff. And we never could really solve that. Justin's got a great arm and has a great sense of their offense. He's really, truly a great player.
Q: What about Joel Klatt; how did he play?
GB: I thought Joel early on really had it in rhythm. Then we got out of rhythm. We weren't able to really solve it very well. He didn't get time to set his feet and throw it. We thought the way to beat them was on the ground. We had their number on the ground, or at least we thought we did. But we shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, and they made some plays. We really didn't get a chance to cut him loose in the second half.
Q: As well as they were throwing the ball, were you surprised they went to two run plays at the end?
GB: No, not really. You're on the 2-yard line, your offense is a veteran offense. I think you believe in your offense down there.
Q: In the past two weeks, have players really been anxious to play after all that's gone on in the offseason?
GB: I don't think it made any difference in the last two weeks. But it was key getting to fall camp. And then it's football, and your focus is on the game you're preparing for.
Q: Can you comment on the freshmen that played?
GB: You know, I'm not sure how many we played. I know Jordon Dizon played quite a bit. We played a lot of redshirt freshman.
Q: Can you elaborate on Dizon? He seemed like he was around the ball a lot.
GB: That's just the way he's been since he got here and we moved him to linebacker. I don't know how he gets there, but he just gets to the ball. He's got a feel for it; he's just a natural player. Who knows how good he can be? But right now he's probably the most effective player we've got in there at the linebacker spot.
Q: What did you think about the play of the receivers?
GB: I don't know that we ever gave them a chance to get going. Early on we did a good job, and then in the second half Joel never got his feet set, there was too much pressure and we never really got them into the game. I think it's a hard thing to comment on because there wasn't a lot of opportunities for them to do anything in the second half.
Q: Was it surreal to see Jeremy Bloom on the sidelines without a uniform?
GB: Yeah, I'm hurting for Jeremy. He came in the locker room before the game and said something to the team. We'd love to have him because that's what he wants to do, he wants to play football.
Q: You mentioned you didn't have Joel and the pass game going. Do you come out of this game feeling one-dimensional on offense?
GB: I would imagine statistically it probably does look that way. But the good thing is at least we had a dimension. A year ago we didn't have that north-south running dimension. That'll serve us well down the road, as we get a little better with protection and give our receivers a little more opportunity. This is always a hard game for both teams to play. Both teams get fired up and you see a lot of passion.
Q: The defense wasn't quite up to standard last year. Can you talk about what you saw in general today? Gerett Burl seemed like he was all over the field.
GB: Yeah, Gerett had a good game. We gave up some big plays and a couple big touchdowns. But we'll get better; we really will once everybody gets used to the scheme. We've got a good young secondary. They needed a game like this to bring them down to earth and show them how tough it is week to week against good teams.