"That was a lot of fun. It was obviously a wild game, lot of things going back and forth. We had talked about during the week that it didn't matter what happened in the first couple plays of the game. It didn't matter what happened in the second quarter, third quarter. It was going to come down to the last possession. We really believed that and the kids bought into that. They bought into it and they believed that we were going to win the football game. That's the reason we won the football game because they believed that."
On Giovani Bernard's game-winning play:
"He had rolled his ankle a little bit so we took him off the punt return. He's a guy that when a play needs to be made, he wants to be out there. He wants the ball in his hands. I promise you he was one of those kids that was always wanting to take the last-second shot in the backyard. He's just one of those guys. He wants the ball in his hands. He wants the opportunity to make a play. Some people look at that, they get nervous, they get scared because everybody's looking at me in the situation – not him. That's when he excels."
On who was supposed to return the punt:
"I knew he was going out before I called the return. I saw that. It would have been Roy [Smith] would have been going out there. If I thought that Gio was 100-percent and I don't think he was 100-percent the whole whatever the last two quarters when he rolled his ankle, I don't think he was, but he willed himself to be. He made a great play. And look, you've got to give those other 10 guys a lot of credit because I don't think anybody touched him. He just called it and ran, so you've got to give those guys some credit."
On preparing for this game:
"There wasn't a whole lot of talking about it, actually. I told them at the beginning of the week, ‘Surely I don't have to say anything.' They know what this game meant and those seniors – they had never done it. Those guys did some talking. Cooper said some things last night and Sly said some things last night. Reddick would have said some things but he had an IV in his arm and was sick as a dog. He couldn't be with us last night. We had a few guys like that. We had guys all through the week that were like that because they were sick. It was just a bunch of kids that played hard together and believed in each other and got it done."
Has the team gotten hit by the flu bug?
"I don't know what it was. I don't have my doctor's deal, but we had a lot of guys sick. Something is just going around campus. It hit Quinshad [Davis] and [Kevin] Reddick last night and they weren't able to do walk-throughs or anything that we did. Scott [Trulock] and his crew did a great job with them. You just wake up on Saturday wandering who's it going to be Saturday morning, because that guy wouldn't have been able to play."
On the emotion of the punt return touchdown:
"I shed a few tears and tried to wipe them away quickly, but yea I did. It was just a feeling, for me, for those seniors, because I immediately flashed back into that room and said you're not going to a bowl game and you could go wherever you want. Kevin Reddick said ‘We're not going anywhere.' That's what flashed through my mind. So for those seniors, that was pretty special."
On the secondary's play in the fourth quarter compared to the previous three:
"If you look, we had two sacks at the end there, also. So it had a lot to do with the pressure that our guys got on them. And [Mike Glennon] is a good player and if you give him time, he's going to shred you and that's what he did."
On the new helmets:
"It was like a bunch of kids at Christmas when they came back off the field, because they had no idea. And it was kind of a lot of fun watching them. It's really hard that something like that or a pretty uniform or some pretty shoes had something to do with the game – I still don't believe that it does. I still believe it's each kid doing his job and outplaying the kid across from him. But some of them feel better when they look pretty."
Thoughts after Gio rolled his ankle:
"Yea [I thought we'd have to go the rest of the way without him]. I didn't give a second thought – roll out [A.J.] Blue and let's move on. It's not like we hadn't been there before. It's not like it's like a big deal – it's just ‘Hey, he's down Blue and Romar [Morris] get ready and we'll roll with you all.' You don't have time in the game to think about stuff like that – the impact of it. The next guy has got to step up, because that's what you do. And everybody knows it. We say it all the time ‘Every guy is an ankle away from playing.' It just so happens that those guys filled in for him until he got ready to play and ready to go."
How special is Bernard:
"He's pretty special. He's pretty special. He believes it all the time and his teammates believe in him – every one of them do. They expect plays like that from him. Just when people believe and they expect good things to happen, a lot of times good things happen."
On the second half come back:
"We came back in at halftime, we made some adjustments, and it still came down to now you don't have to play 60 minutes, now you have to play 30. I said, ‘No matter what the score is now, it's still going to come down to the last possession of the game. And we kept talking about that on the sideline throughout the game. As I walked by guys I said, ‘One play at a time. It's going to come down to the last possession.' And I think they just bought into that. No matter what happened, they believed it was going to come down to the end."
On why he felt it would come down to the last possession:
"I just know that all the close games that we've been in have come down to the last possession, if you go back and look at our games – whether we were on the field offensively or on the field defensively we had a chance to win the game. So I just figured it would be that way on this on."
On the use of the final two timeouts:
"I was scared to death. I was scared to death that I was going to call a timeout and they were going to get a first down. And they had three timeouts. I was definitely worried about it, but you have to make the call. I made the call and the defense held them. My thought process was: we'd have somewhere around 30 seconds left; we wouldn't have any timeouts, but we only needed a field goal. And with Casey [Barth] and the way the wind was – we had already talked it through – we needed to get it somewhere around the 28- to 30-yard line. At around 30 seconds, we get around six plays in. That's a couple passes and we have a chance."
On the decision to go from the two-point conversion after the final touchdown:
"The holder [made the decision], because the left tackle did not get out there, we didn't have enough guys on the field – he got caught up in the chaos. He looked up and saw that we only had two seconds on the clock and he snapped it, he dropped the snap, and in those situations – and we work it every week if you get a ‘fire' call – they made a fire call and executed the fire call. That's just that the kids were prepared – not the left tackle – but the others were."
On the decision to make Bernard a punt returner:
"[We made the decision] during fall camp. After T.J. [Thorpe] went down, we were really struggling for somebody to take over that spot. And then Reggie [Wilkins] went down and we were down to ‘Okay, now what?' So we kind of had an open call to everyone on the team to find someone who could just catch a punt. In the back of my mind, I didn't know if [Bernard] had ever returned one but if you put the ball in somebody's hands in the open field, I want it to be him. I talked to him about it and sort of sold him on the fact – I hope."
On Eric Ebron at defensive end
"It was something that we had been talking about. And with Tim Jackson being out and Shakeel [Rashad]… [Ebron] played it all throughout high school, so he's comfortable over there. I think it took away a little bit from what he did offensively. He had some uncharacteristic drops that he normally doesn't have. And I think part of that was because his focus was other places in trying to help the football team."