"We bent a whole lot on defense, we didn't break, we held when we needed to hold at the end. We made some plays we needed to make on offense. We still have to do a better job throwing the football, they were really crowding the line of scrimmage. We hit some shots down the field, we missed some shots down the field. We're going to get better, we need to get a lot better as a football team."
"That's a heck of a football team we played, UAB. They did a nice job. That's our third Conference USA team that we've played and they're the best ones we've played, hands down. So a lot of credit to them. And we're done with the Conference USA schedule now, I guess, unless we get an opportunity to go to the Liberty Bowl! But that was a heck of a football team we played out there today and they deserve a lot of credit for the way they played and how they competed for four quarters."
"But we're moving on, next week we've got Kentucky at home, the last game in the middle stretch of our season. We finished 2-2 in the first stretch, we're 4-0 in this middle stretch. We've got one game to get to a bye week and have the opportunity to get healthy."
Q: At halftime did you decide to go with J.C. Brignone at center, and what did that do for the second half offense? "Well, we were down five offensive starters in that game. We started that game with five offensive starters injured, so half your lineup was out. At halftime (J.C.) came up and said Coach, I'm good. I said, what's good? He said I'm 100%. We weren't sure he could go a full game with our trainers; I wasn't sure, really he was limited at practice this week and we didn't want him aggravating the injury. He said Coach I'm 100%, put me in. We did and I think he just settles us down."
"We had a pretty productive second half and he just brought some leadership back on the offensive line. I mean, he's your starting center and he's the apex as I've said before, the foundation of that offensive line. It all goes through him, so it was great having him out there in the second half. I grabbed him as soon as he came off the field and said did anything get rolled, anything tweaked? He said no, I feel just as good now as I did before the game."
"So hopefully now we're going to get some guys healthy, get them back and get them ready to play."
"J.C. was very limited at practice this week, he practiced Thursday some and a little bit Wednesday. He didn't practice the week before really at all. You just get out of rhythm, you're having to not just snap but snap and block with all the live bullets coming at you. But Chris Relf did a nice job managing it."
Q: Talk about some of the starters that were out, like Vick Ballard not playing? Evaluate how LaDarius Perkins did? "Well, he did a great job. He came in, 131 yards rushing for us, and did a really nice job. Vick practiced on Thursday and was running great straight-ahead, we were questioning his lateral movement. It was a judgment call before the game, they said he could go and one of our thoughts was we've rotated the guys early in the season; we have belief in the tailback position."
"Instead of putting Vick at risk of missing more games as the season went on we'll hold him. And hopefully that pays off because they felt he'll be 100% if we held him this game. I saw Thursday we were jogging back after one of our drives and he was racing somebody down the field; I asked him today and he said I feel great. But we just wanted to be sure."
Q: A guy from the Colorado School of Mines… "M-i-n-d-s or m-i-ne?" Mines. "OK, so he's not super-smart?!"
Q: I don't know but he did well under pressure, how far has he come? "He's done great. Like I've said all year, I believe in our kickers. They have the talent, they've just gotten themselves into a funk during the season. You ask the question, what do you want to do about the kickers, do you practice it, do you have a competition at practice, what are you doing? They both kick really well at practice, that hasn't been the issue all year."
"I just made the decision in pregame warmup, Derek was actually having a little better get-off time. That's what it came down to, not the accuracy or anything else, both of them were doing a good job. His get-off time was a little faster than Sean's. I said Sean, you've got kickoff tonight, Derek you've got the field goals. And boy, he came through."
"Sean did a really nice job on kickoffs, Derek did a nice job on field goals, Heath Hutchins did an unbelievable job punting the ball. He ended up with one bad punt but I tell you what, he had a lot of clutch punts during the game. And hopefully our kickers, they have the experience there, they just get out of their rut and start performing better."
Q: How big was it to get the offense rolling in the third quarter? "Well, it was. We came out and completed some balls. Chris made some nice throws and got some pressure off, got them off of us a little bit. Chris was still a little shaky at times, he missed some a couple of easy ones. It was kind of funny, he missed some of the easy throws and made the tough throws. We've got to get the confidence back and I think we'll do that."
"And as the game went on we were trying to control the clock. They have an explosive offense, our defense played a lot of plays in the first half, so you're kind of torn. We're trying to control the tempo of the game but also let him take shots and throw it down the field. It was a back-and-forth, but I told Les (Koenning) to stay aggressive. I thought Les did a heck of a job tonight calling that game and keeping us aggressive for four quarters."
Q: What did you see the first half that led you to use the wide receivers as the runners in the third quarter? "They just pinched everybody inside. They had eight guys taking away the inside run so we had to get the ball on the perimeter. Just in the scheme we had they were our perimeter runners this week, to get the opportunity to get the ball in their hands."
Q: Dennis Thames and Damein Anderson did not play? "Yeah, it hurt more in special teams but both of them will be back next week. We expect both of them to be back next week."
"We just were not in rhythm. But offensively, I know a couple of them are coming back but we're without Marcus Green, Leon Berry, Tobias Smith, J.C. Brignone, Vick Ballard, I mean that's five starters. You're going to be a little bit herky-jerky. And just some silly bang-bang plays with some personal fouls we have to address."
Q: Were you concerned how before halftime UAB just drove down the field to tie the game? "You know, it's a concern we'll address. I think we were flat as a team tonight. And we're going to have an opportunity to address that definitely at practice tomorrow."
"But this was a big win that will allow us to do this. Coming out of this game, this win will allow us to refocus as a team, make sure we take care of business. And we held them to 354 yards, I think that's 70 or 80 under their average. So we played decent at times. We just had some silly things, some missed tackles and 11 penalties. It was only a couple of week ago we were leading the league in least number of penalties. So we'll get those things addressed.
"And it's great that we can go clean up after a win, and not address it after a loss."
Q: Did you address the team about becoming bowl eligible? "I said we just earned ourselves one more game! So be proud. But again, our goals…we improved over last year's win total so we've done that now. but there are a lot of things now that this team wants to continue to achieve. And they're hopefully hitting stride at this point of the season."
"It comes down really to this is a one-game season for us next week. Because you get to the bye week and you get to regroup. When we talked to them earlier in the season we split the season into thirds; the first four games, the next five, and the last three. So we're finishing up that middle third of the season. I think it's a great feeling for our kids, a great feeling for me, it's a huge boost to our program. That's going to be a lot of extra practices that our young players get now with the opportunity to go to a bowl game. And it's a great boost to our fans, I mean I really expect us to have a great fan base whatever bowl game picks up. I know we're going to travel well and our fans are going to be excited to go."
Q: Were you happy with the team's focus? "I'm happy we found a way to win this game. Because I was worried, that's a talented team we played, we're coming off a tough battle last week, our kids are being patted on the backs by everybody this week in class and told how good they are. To find a way to win a tough ball game was fantastic; now we've got that behind us. So now we're bowl eligible, we've been ranked, they can get back to class and worry about going to school and being good students and working hard on the football field and stop getting patted on the back."
"So our student body, instead of patting them on the back, kick them in the rear end and tell them they've got to get going!"
Q: This game gave a little of everything, at the end one of your players proposed? "You know. D.J. Looney ran and grabbed me and said can we get everybody at midfield, Aaron Feld is going to propose to his girlfriend. I thought, good for him, that was risky. When I proposed I was at a private restaurant incase I got a no! Doing it in front of 56,000 people is a little scary. Know what, that's a great moment for him, he's been on our leadership committee, a great kid, does everything right on our program. and for him a special moment he and his future wife will remember forever."