Nov. 19, 2012
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen held a news conference Monday to recap the Louisiana Tech game and talk about the upcoming game against Idaho. A complete transcript of Andersen's remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Gary Andersen
Recapping the Louisiana Tech game:
"That was a tremendous football game. There was a lot to see, ups and downs, back and forth, swinging momentum, and some tremendous athletes on both sides. I thought it was just a great environment and it lived up to it's billing, if you will, as far as being two of the best teams in the conference facing off. I'm very proud of our team; the way they started was obviously very, very good on both sides of the ball. A good football team in Louisiana Tech made some plays and made a run in the second half, but we were able to hang in there and fight. I think it just shows our toughness, our grit, our want-to and desire. I thought the coaches on both sides really did a nice job. It was probably as big of a chess match as I've ever been involved in as far as the X's and O's during the game, really on both sides. I thought our defensive staff did a tremendous job of trying to crack the code of one of the best offenses in the country. Obviously, Louisiana Tech had their moments and we had our moments and that is kind of how it went. I'm just proud of the kids; the way they found a way to make plays. In overtime, we weren't phased at all. It would have been easy to look back and say `holy cow, these guys are home, they've got all the momentum, they outscored us 17-0 in the fourth quarter'. But for us to be able to walk into overtime and Kerwynn (Williams) touched the ball three times and score was impressive. We had a hard enough time stopping them on three downs let alone four downs in the fourth quarter. Obviously in overtime we were able to stop them in four downs and that was a tremendously played football play with a lot that went into that play. Jake (Doughty) made the play when he had to, to win it."
Thoughts on his team:
"Nine wins, what more can I say? They've done a tremendous job; they've reached a lot of goals this year they had set for them. They still have goals out there that they want to go out and continue to fight for and play well to give back to the university, all the fans, and we are excited about that opportunity. We are very excited to come back home and play Idaho. It will be a great opportunity for us and there is a lot to play for, and the kids will know about every one of the reasons to turn around and play. The bottom line is, the reason to play hard, consistent, and practice the right way, is because this is a football team in Idaho that two years ago beat us here and last year we had to go into whatever it was, double or triple overtime to win the football game. So, we will definitely get Idaho's best shot and we have tremendous respect for their program and everything about it. There are a lot of other things to play for. An outright conference championship, that means a lot, the ability to get to 10 wins. There are not very many times in a career as a player or a coach where you get an opportunity to win 10 games, especially to win 10 games in the regular season. It's a special place to be. We're excited about that opportunity and then there is a lot of `never's' out there for this football. There are things that they can do that have never happened in the history of Utah State Football. That is pretty special. We will use that term a lot this week, because never is a long time."
Do you think the hard year last year with a lot of close games prepared the team mentally for this type of game when they got into overtime?
"Yeah, I think so. I think the way these kids have gone for the last two years, to be able to win the fight you've got to be in the fight. I think now they feel like they can get into the fight with anybody and that is important. It doesn't always mean you are going to win, just because you can get in it. There are so many variables, number one there is another team that has belief and fight and want-to, to be able to win themselves. Everybody wants to talk about these close games and how it was and this and that. To me, good teams get into close games and good teams don't win every close game. That's the way it goes. That's the sign of a competitive program; that's a sign of a good program. So, hopefully we have gotten used to talking about that and hopefully we can continue to talk about that as we move forward, because good teams get into close games. Good teams will win some of those games sometimes and good teams lose some of those games sometimes. I don't think it's your identity, your character of your football team because you lose a close football game. I hope we move past that now, but we will see. Did it prepare us? Absolutely. Getting into the moments like last game, we had been there before and that helps."
On being plus three in the turnover battle against Louisiana Tech and how big that was in the game:
"There were some keys moments when you look back, but the turnovers were big. The timing of the turnovers, one set us in scoring position; only got three points. The other two took them out of scoring position and really to me the blocked kick is a turnover, if you will, just as good as. Especially where we got the ball after that and I believe that blocked kick did turn into three points, both of those were three. To win the turnover battle in that situation was big and especially the way they came. To get into overtime, they made a lot of plays and so did we, and we needed everyone and obviously so did they. It was great to win the turnover margin convincingly, which is a big step."
On Louisiana Tech going five for nine in the red zone, with only three touchdowns after being so good in that area all season:
"Yeah, we've been a good red zone defense, the kids have got a lot of belief. Again, I go back and credit a lot of that to the players and the coaches in that setting. When I say that, I'm not talking about the athleticism or the want-to, it's more than that to me. It's Tuesday at practice; it's Wednesday at practice; it's Monday afternoon in the meetings, talking about red zone, making it matter. It's like talking to Willie (Will Davis) and Jake (Doughty) both on their picks. One of their first comments to me as we were talking after the game was by Willie who said, 'Coach, we ran that five times in practice and here it came.' Preparation to win a championship and preparation to get yourself in a position to win against good football teams is key. Jake was the same way; he had prepared himself. I think he had played that play before it happened, we were in a position to play the percentages and we were fortunate to make that play."
After the game you said you thought you should be ranked and you are ranked #25 in the AP Poll. What did that mean when that came out?
"Well it's another very special moment, for the kids and for all the coaches. It's a big accomplishment. It is something that hasn't happened for a long time. When we all started this adventure and I mean all of us, four and half years ago or however long it was, we wanted to reach out and try to wrap our arms around some of those things. Now some of those things we are wrapping our arms around, I don't know if we were really thinking about those then. It's just a credit to the kids and the tremendous university and everybody that has been involved to get us to this point. It's fun times and it's well deserved in my opinion. I am just happy for everyone that is involved. It's fun to turn on your phone and pull it down, see those schools, have their logo's listed and boom there it ours at 25. It's a pretty special moment."
What about the seniors with this being senior day coming up?
"They've accomplished so much since they've been here, some of them two years and some of them four years. A couple of the guys five years, Matt Austin and Kellen (Bartlett) seems like a 100 years; they have been here a long time. First of all, my appreciation for them, my thanks for them, I can't really put it into words for their belief, their want-to. You walk in here and everything is new, there is not a lot of those kids that were in that first team meeting that are left on this team. We've talked about it. There are two. Just for them to be able to believe in a system; believe in the progression that we teach as coaches. Respect the process is something we talked about the very first day we were in here. The two logo's the first two years was 'Respect the Process' and 'Why not us? Why not now?' A long time ago those were on the walls in the weight room. These kids now can understand it and wrap their arms around it. I appreciate them for all the belief they had in us as a coaching staff, the belief they had in me, the faith and the belief that the parents had to let their young men come here. At the time when you are recruited, you have no idea. It's just like anything else. It's a belief that you are going to go to school there. They had no idea how special the situation they were getting themselves into as far as the university, as far as the things that could possibly happen. So, I say thank you to those parents and family."
"The other thing when we talk about these seniors, it's all of the seniors that have come and gone. There were a lot of them at that last game. I saw Derrvin (Speight), I didn't get to say hi to Derrvin, but I saw him after the game. Derrvin's senior year was a hard senior year, four wins and injuries everywhere. That was a tough, tough year. Diondre (Borel's) year, same year, it was tough to deal with. All of those kids are included in this senior class and there are 19 of them that will walk out there and have their last game. To me since I have been here, everyone of those kids are a part of this and I tell them every single time I get a chance that this is part of all those victories."
With fan attendance being a hot topic the last few home games, talk about the fans at the airport to welcome you home?
"The first thing it does, it puts a big smile on my face. I wish you would have had a tape recorder so you could have heard what they kids were saying. Appreciative is an understatement for the kids in the program when that airplane pulled up there and they saw all those fans. From a coaching standpoint, a year ago when we came back from New Mexico State, there were a lot of fans out there too. A lot of coaches left from New Mexico State to go out recruiting last year and so when they pulled up and saw that, that was the first time they had experienced that. This was even bigger than a year ago and it was special times. It brings everybody together. It shows investment. It shows want-to. It shows belief, the care factor and it goes both ways. From the players to the fans and to the university, and the fans and the university back to the players, it means a lot. Everybody wants the stadium to be full. We can all go back and forth, and kick and wine, scream or whatever. It is all of us. We'll fill that place and the reason I want it to be full is because I want people to enjoy the game. It's exciting to have it full and we all know that. It's intimidating and it's a very hard place to play. When that stadium is full it's hard, it's hard to come up here to play us and we all know that. It's a process. It's all part of the deal. So, I hope the people come out and support the kids this week. I'm going to buy my extra tickets, I have a bunch to buy myself. We'll go out there and slap down the credit card. I've got a lot of people coming to this game. I am sure it will be a very nice crowd for these kids, to send them off. It looks like it's going to be 53 degrees and sometimes the stars all line up the right way. Enjoy it while they are there. Let's just be there for them and we want to be there for the fans, and we want to play well."
Did McKade Brady suffer a dislocated jaw?
"I don't know what he did. I really do not know. I just know that he supposedly had some type of jaw injury. If we tried to keep him out of the game, we probably would have had more injuries with the coaching staff than McKade has with the hurt jaw. He kept playing, going back in, back and forth. I know Doctor (Trek) Lyons did a great job evaluating him and getting him where he can be. I talked to McKade this morning and he seemed a little sore but it sounds like he is going to play. In his mindset he is surely going to play."
Can you tell us anything about Idaho?
"Yeah, I have not seen a bunch of film of them either on them. It's been kind of a mad scramble. Obviously the coaches have, they were here all day yesterday and they've been here today. So, I don't have a bunch of information on them. I know they lost the last game. It was a tight one, it sounded like they had a chance to come in and win the game, but I don't want to speak ignorantly about an opponent that I really have not seen more than probably three clips on them. The coaches and players were in here this morning doing all the stuff that they normally do. Idaho is going to come in here prepared to play. It's their last chance to play this year, all the stuff that comes with it. Last time Idaho was here they played very, very well. They are going through a transition and there are a lot of things that go into that. Kids want to play and get prepared to have a good showing for the next coaches. They want to beat the champion. They're competitors. They are a Division I football team and they've played a lot of good football. So, they are going to want to come in here and beat the champion. That is kind of what it is all about. It's always a driving force for competitive kids, so they will be ready to play and they will be very excited I am sure."
On Chuckie Keeton being Player of the Week in the WAC:
"Chuckie (Keeton), again an unbelievably solid game. He made good decisions with the football and ran the ball well. I thought he had a very complete game, from top to bottom, and gave us an opportunity to continue to play at a high level throughout the game. I think we ended up playing 79 or 80 snaps on the offensive side of the ball. Him and Kerwynn (Williams) were very good. I thought the offensive line probably had their best game of the year, which they needed to. So, that was great to see. Chuckie's performance, he is a special young man and he is a tremendous football player. It's more than just his athletic ability, which we all know, we all know what kind of kid he is and the importance for him to win. It was special for him to see his dad there and his parent's after the game. That was there belief when they were at the BYU game when we were recruiting Chuckie and all that came together, it was a special time for Chuckie and his family and obviously all of us, but it was great to see that."
Are you concerned about distractions this weekend with it being Thanksgiving and all?
"Well first of all, we will never talk about distractions. It is what it is and whatever comes our way, we are going to deal with it. That is the way we have been forever. This last road trip is a hard road trip. You fly across the country, you've got to drive an hour and 20 minutes before the game, you've got to tape in a tent. There are a lot of things that come into that game that can be distractions and they just can't phase you. That is one of the things I'm most proud of this team. Will Thanksgiving be a distraction, absolutely not. I know my wife Stacey and myself are looking forward to it, we get to have 30 kids up to our house for Thanksgiving. That's going to be fun. That's the first time since we've been here that we've been settled enough on Thanksgiving to be able to have a real home that we can let the kids come in and be part of. I think Thanksgiving will be great and it's an opportunity for families to come on a break and come see the last game. I know that most of the seniors' families will be here, they are going to make the trip early so they can be with the young men on Thanksgiving and continue through the game."
"As far as Idaho goes, it is always a high concern. Just like I just talked about, I think those coaches are going to coach like crazy. I know a bunch of them and they are good football coaches. They are going to want to come in here and represent themselves well, represent their school well and represent their players well. From a players standpoint I am sure they will have the exact same mindset."
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