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“The great part about a game like today is you actually get a few hours to go home and enjoy it. A win is a win. That’s what it is to me. I’m really proud of the effort these kids had, bouncing back after a difficult loss. They played with tremendous emotion today. Really proud of what the defense did. I think it was the first time in a long, long time we held a team under 200 yards. To hold them just to a field goal is really significant. This team we played can score points, then can move the ball.
“They did a terrific job somewhat containing Hagans and that’s hard to do. To see us come out and hold a team to 90 yards rushing is really significant. We’re excited about the win but at the same time we know if we do things better and we’re a little smarter then we can play better.
“I’m really proud of the effort but we have to continue to try and fix some of these problems. We had a lot of costly holding penalties. That is something that is completely unacceptable to all of us.
“I was really excited about the crowd, the way the second half started with the F-15s. Those guys are special. We are so lucky to have those people. They are so mistake free. Defending us and our country. Having them on our campus and having them speak to the team on Friday was really neat, too. To see them open up the second half got everybody really juiced up to play. Hopefully we can carry over that emotion to next week and Miami.
“Most importantly we were able to stop the run with some very good fits. You saw speed on the defense today with the way we pursuit. The whole defensive staff did a really terrific job on the play-action passes. We had more people around the receivers. Jeff Longhany knocks down a ball on a wheel route to the fastest receiver on their team. You see Trimane Goddard breaking on a ball on a deep over-route almost getting an interception. Our players really zeroed in to the plan and were able to execute on the back end a great deal. We really competed well and a good understanding of what their plan was.
“Nice to see him (Ronnie McGill) rush for over 100 yards. That was a big emphasis for us to have a chance to win was to run the football. For the most part we did an effective job. The holding penalties kill you in the running game. We have to eliminate those mistakes. Barrington is a young football player. Ronnie has been around this program, he knows our running game inside out. To have those two complement each other is terrific. Barrington had some big runs for us.”
On stopping their run game:
“Our players did a very good job in preparation and we have more speed out there to get it done. The fits to stop the run game is what it is all about. The guys outside on the edge did a good job of either stringing it out or getting pursuit to the ball. Great team pursuit came back today.”
On punt at end of game:
“When the ball left David Wooldridge’s foot, I said game over. Then all of a sudden, it’s not. And that - makes me mad (laughter in room by media). Mike (Mason) knows he did wrong and he apologized in the locker room and that was good of him.
“You have to play this game with emotion. You have to be smart. We came up with the defensive play of the year. Hopefully we can draw upon that to continue to get better. It was one of the best games we’ve played on defense since I’ve been here, particularly against a guy like Hagans who is so dangerous. Our players fed off that crowd out there and fed off each other and kept playing hard.”
On the change from two weeks ago:
“It does happen. What’s good about the character on this team is they hold themselves accountable. We as a coaching staff can continue to get them better. But there is no substitution for having great kids. I think a number of them grew up today. They played physical, they played tough, they played hard, they played together.”