POST-GAME MEDIA: Robb Akey

"There's about a 750,000 ton gorilla that just got ripped off our backs today. I'm happy as can be for this team, for those kids. They keep coming back to work, and they keep working to do things better - to do things right - and they were rewarded for that. For them to be able to celebrate, and smile, and feel good about the way they played a game that they love, there are not enough words."

Q: How's it feel?
RA: "There's about a 750,000 ton gorilla that just got ripped off our backs today, and I tell you what - I'm happy as can be for this football team, for those kids. They've been busting their butts. They keep coming back to work, and they keep coming back to work, and they keep working to do things better - to do things right - and we finally got ourselves a game put together today, and they were rewarded for that. That means everything to me. It's been a long haul getting to this point. So, for them to get it over the edge and be able to celebrate, and smile, and feel good about the way they played a game that they love - there are not enough words. I'm happy as can be."

LARRY JOHNSON: Here we are at Homecoming, everything going right. What did you think of the students' rushing the field?
RA: "I thought it was awesome! They're hungry too! They needed something to be excited about, and I thought they were awesome. I tell you what: That game, it was loud down there, particularly there at the end when they were on offense. I thought the students have done a great job, the Homecoming people were awesome. There was a great crowd at the bonfire last night, and that's an awesome thing. We keep getting some of these wins to click together and we can have that [Kibbie Dome] packed all the time, and have it being loud. I'm looking very forward to what we're going to be able to get done here."

Q: Coach, talk about your defense today.
RA: "I thought the defense came up really big. I was real happy with that because we were going against one of the better quarterbacks in the country. That receiver is one of the better receivers in the country, and I thought they did a fantastic job. They got thrown into some situations - backed up - and I think there were three fourth-down stops. We got them to miss the field goal. The interception was big right there before the half. I really had hoped we'd put points together with that, but the fact of the matter is we got them stopped and that was the job the defense needed to do. But the takeaways that we had, the drive stops, [NMSU] going for it on fourth down being able to stop it, it was huge. And it was nice to see those kids playing with confidence. They couldn't wait to get back out on the field."

Q: It almost seems like it's night and day with the defense.
RA: "Compared to last week and compared to what it's been like a little bit, you're not too far off right there. They put it together the way they're capable of playing today. More things came together as opposed to having some of the blowup things, or some of the missed tackles, whatever it might be that had affected us so much in some of these previous games. And they put it together for 60 minutes. I mean, they really played a pretty darn good football team, and did a good job with them for the full hour we were out there. I'm happy as can be for them. They came up with some great plays."

Q: In the second half the offense had a few three-and-outs, and those guys, the defense, kept getting tossed on the field, but they were ready to go.
RA: "They were, and they were coming with more energy. When you looked at them in the eye before they went out on the field, they couldn't wait to get back out there. They experienced the way the game is supposed to be played. They really did. There was a great confidence to them, especially the one scenario where they had the stop and then they got thrown back out there right away. It was early in the game - the muffed punt. They got the stop, and then got thrown back out there - backed up - and then being able to keep the goal line stand, and keep them from being able to score was huge. That confidence started early and was able to mount throughout the course of the day. So, then if the offense did get stopped - whether it was a three-and-out or whatever the situation was - they took the field with the confidence you expect of the Vandal defense. That's the way I expect us to be able to play. Again, I'm happy for those players."

Q: Princeton (McCarty) really gave a spark right out of the gate.
RA: "Princeton ran the ball well, and he had a couple big [plays], he did a nice job. One hundred sixty-one yards off of 15 carries, and that 54-yard run was big. It was real big. I told him after we got done and scored, I said, Okay, I'm gonna forgive you now. [His mistake] put us on the 10 yard line when he fielded that kick that should have gone out of bounds, and we [could have gotten] it up on the 40. I think he lost track of where he was. He carried it out, but he got us out of the hole and did a great job. I thought that was a fantastic drive by our offense. I think our offensive line did a fantastic job today. Princeton did a great job with his runs. I think all of our running backs did, and that offensive line… you're gotta take your hat off to the offensive line. They did a fantastic job. How many yards did we have rushing? 271? That's good. We can live with that."

Q: Momentum for next week? It's gotta give you a little momentum going into next week.
RA: "Oh, I promise you. Winning a game gives us all the momentum in the world. You watch. Tomorrow the sun is going to be brighter, your coffee's gonna taste better… ours is, anyways. I'll promise you that. When we get out there on Tuesday there should be some great enthusiasm to go get [another]. We've got it at a one-game streak. Let's go get it to two. There will be great excitement there. I'm gonna say it for about the 15th time. I'm happy for those kids."

LJ: It didn't seem like there were any injuries today. Is that true?
RA: "As far as I know, yeah. I think there might have been some little dings, but to my knowledge everybody that started the game was able to finish the game."

Q: What about the pass rush? That had been non-existent for some time. You guys were putting great pressure on Holbrook… sometimes four guys.
RA: "Yeah, [at halftime] they were talking about how many sacks they wanted to get in the second half. I said, You owe me three. The way I look at it I thought there were a couple we could have had there in the first half. I was giving them a hard time, but there was an excitement about them. Their moves were working a little bit better. They were coming with a vengeance after the quarterback, and I did feel like there were some opportunities to sack the quarterback that we had early in the game that we didn't get done. But, the pressure on him [Chase Holbrook] was good. Those players have a done a nice job working technique. The defensive staff has done a nice job making those things come together. It also says a little bit for the coverage, because one of the things you want with that quarterback is not for him to be able to just stand up and throw the ball to whoever he wants to, right now. If we can do something about that first look and make him be there for a little bit, that helps that front pressure be able to get on him. With the coverage working the way that it did, the rush men going after it the way that they did, our coaches put a good plan together for those guys. You saw a lot of cats running in out and out there. There were fresh bodies going after that quarterback quite often throughout the day."

LJ: The way the students rushed the field, did you get a chance to talk to Hal Mumme at the end of the game?
RA: "Yeah. I saw him at the end of the game and got to say hi to their quarterback. We helped him up off the turf. He was laying down on the ground at the end of the game."
Q: That last sequence – the players rushing on and then the fans. What was that like for you? Where were you in the whole thing?
RA: "While I was on my way out there I was dodging Gatorade buckets. I got out of the way of three of them, but a couple of them got me, so, I don't have to worry about an after-game shower. I'm good to go now. I was ducking those things and trying to get over there so we could sing the fight song with everybody, and I looked back and we were surrounded by everybody. I was talking to a lot of the players because these players… you've gotta understand what they've been through for a lot of them, some of these seniors in particular. Being able to win a football game, it's been a long time coming, a WAC conference game. Even this season, the way it has been, it's been a long time since we won a game. That was earlier, and it wasn't a WAC conference game; so this was big. I was grabbing some of those guys and congratulating them. We finally got over there and got to close on the fight song. We came back over and got there for the close on the other fight song, and then we got in the locker room and the team was fired up."

Q: Anything else for coach?
RA: "Hey! Let's do this again next week, all right? Thanks y'all!"




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