CONFERENCE USA PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES – Nov. 22, 2016
“We’re looking forward to going out and playing in San Antonio. It’s another critical step in the building process in our program. It’s an opportunity to get to .500 in our league. That’s our focus this week. I told our team, especially our senior class, that we signed up to build this program. If we can hit 4-4 on the road against a really good [UTSA] team, we know the level that will be at the Alamodome. We need to go out and do our part, prepared to play.”
As seniors, what have you seen from this program and what are you leaving behind?
WR AUSTIN DUKE: “I can’t thank Coach Lambert enough for giving me the opportunity that every other college coach in the country didn’t give me. That’s the biggest thing. Coming here was showing that gratitude for one man that gave me the opportunity to do what a lot of people said I couldn’t do. I owe everything to him and am so thankful that he allowed me to come out here and leave a legacy and play with this great group of men.”
DL BRANDON BANKS: “Coach Lambert has been there for me throughout these years. Of all of my friends that play college football, I can say that none of them have a coach that’s involved with them like Coach Lambert. It’s a lot to swallow right now, but coming to the field house every day and seeing coach smiling -- letting us know that everything is alright -- that’s my biggest takeaway. He treats us all like family.”
How weird is it going to be to come into this building on Monday and not prepare for anything?
DL BRANDON BANKS: “It’s going to feel very different. I promise you. It’s going to be shell shocking.”
WR AUSTIN DUKE: “It’s going to be a first. In college, all I know is Charlotte football. I’m pretty sure that Coach Lambert has prepared us for the future.”
How many of these guys do you anticipate getting a shot at the pros?
COACH LAMBERT: “It’ll be a good group of them. First and foremost, there’s a ton of good people in this class but not to mention good football players. There will be a good number but the nice thing about this group is that they’ll put their degree in their back pocket and go chase their dream. That’s always the nice thing. They have their degree and they can go chase their dream. Not everyone goes to the NFL but everyone can get their degree if they come in and work hard. There’s a lot of parallels between football and life. It’s a good group. It’ll be weird for me to not have them around. I’m excited about this group leading us from an alumni standpoint moving forward.”
How important is it for the guys that will be here next year to send this senior class out on the right now?
COACH LAMBERT: “It’s very important. That’s why I was pleased with the way we came out in the second half over the weekend. We buckled down and said that wasn’t who were are and tried to get this thing to five wins. That’s a leadership thing with this class. That’s what they’ve done since they came in and hopefully that trickles down to the other classes. They’ll step up and do what this class has done. We want to go out on a winning note in San Antonio.”
With a new coach, how different are they [UTSA Roadrunners]?
COACH LAMBERT: “They’re different and playing extremely hard. They do a good job running the ball. Those guys are going in the right direction and playing at a high level. They play extremely hard. They’ve played a difficult schedule and yet they’ve put themselves in a position to get to bowl eligibility. We need to play with high energy in this game.”
How much confidence do you have considering your success on the road?
COACH LAMBERT: “Our guys have done a nice job when we go on the road and I expect no different this week. We’ll take the same approach. We seem to have a little more success finishing the game on the road. We need to approach it with great focus on our fundamentals.”
How to we match up against UTSA’s offense?
DL BRANDON BANKS: “They run an NFL-style offense and try to blow you off the ball. They have a great quarterback and running back but it will be a great competition.”
How about on the defensive side?
WR AUSTIN DUKE: “They play a lot of man coverage. That’s really all I have on that one.”
After going winless in the league last year, what would it mean to you to finish .500?
WR AUSTIN DUKE: “Like coach said, it’s critical for our program. Last year we went 0-8 and this year, if we go 4-4, it’s a sign of building. Just because we didn’t reach our main goal, that doesn’t mean we’re not striving for others. We strive for greatness in every opportunity. We could easily be at 5-2 right now. The little things and minute details. We lost two game by one point. That speaks for itself. We’re a good football team in C-USA; we just need to finish it.”
At the end of the game Austin, many fans were saluting you and I noticed you were waving back, what was that moment like for you?
WR AUSTIN DUKE: “Just showing gratitude and appreciation. I had to thank everyone for sticking with us through the good and bad times. I thank everyone who supported the Charlotte 49ers. Seeing kids call your name or saying good job, I thank them because sometimes they don’t see it on Saturdays and it doesn’t always paint the picture of the other 365 days. For those fans to stay out and thank us, it’s very pleasing.”
VIDEO (Courtesy of Charlotte Athletics)