UCF Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 23

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UCF Head Coach George O'Leary met with the media Tuesday. The following is a transcript from the session.

On the rivalry with Marshall...

"I think every game's a rival game. I think we're on everybody's high-list right now. I always look forward to going up there; they have a good fan base, they're an active crowd. ... I enjoy going up there and competing. This is a conference game. It's a big game as far as they only have one loss in conference so we got to stay one game ahead. I think we're at the stage [where] we got to control our own destiny as far as what's taking place. Again, it's a big game for us but every game is a big game. This will be a major, major game up in Huntington as far as Marshall's attitude with what's going to take place." 

 

On keeping the players focused with back-to-back road games...

"They understand every game's a new adventure. We haven't played the way we would've liked to have played for a couple of weeks now. ... We still, basically, got to put a 60-minute game together. We had both players with Latavius Murray getting the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week and A.J. Bouye getting the Defensive Player of the Week in the conference. So, there are some fellows out there that are really doing well but we just got things we got to get cleaned up. Offensively, as far as the passing game, we've been out of sync for a couple of weeks and we're working hard this week on getting some of those things corrected. Defensively, I think we're trying to do too much. We got guys that are supposed to be in certain alignments [that] aren't there and that's why you're having some missed plays or some yardage that we shouldn't be giving up. I just think we're trying to do too much. I've scaled it back this week so we can be in position to do things we have to get done."      

 

On the NCAA hearing concerning the postseason ban being in January...

"I was told last week that the hearing would be Jan. 24th, which is what I thought it would be. I think it's great news for our team, great news for our fan base and we would've never had appealed that unless we thought we had a great opportunity to win that certain sanction. When I read what's going on with some other schools, it's not being consistent as far as what happened. I expected it to be (in January) or after then. Again, nothing has changed as far as the football team is concerned. Now, basically we can fight for a conference championship; we can go to a bowl game. Then we need to go out and win that appeal Jan. 24 and I definitely think we have a great opportunity to do that."   

 

On letting the players know that they can play in the championship game and a bowl game...                

"Well, I told them that in August so there was nothing new I could tell them. They just reassured that there's nothing in our way except ourselves and I think that's what  I said to them - 'Hey, right now everything that's on the table is there and we just  got to keep going after the things we need to go after.'"

 

On the progression of the Marshall offense...

"They're averaging 569 yards a game which is a lot of plays but what they're doing is, in the last four games, they had (89, 91, 90 and 85) plays. In just the one half of the Southern Miss game there were 44 plays. They're running a lot of plays - high tempo, quick tempo. They're no-huddle but I think they're very fastball no-huddle. Some people call it NASCAR, I call it fastball but that's what they are doing. The more plays you run the better opportunity you have to put points on the board and get yardage. I think when you look at it as far as what's happening, is that that they're giving, they're scoring. They've scored 151 points and given up 120 in conference, we've scored 113 and given up 68 in the three games. But when we look at yardage, really I don't look at statistics, I look at defense versus the score. That's what I look at. The 569 yards, that got you in the top five in the country. But the opponents are getting 450s yards a game too. We average about 401 a game, and I think we give up 350. What's out of whack, for us, is our run yardage, that's usually better than it is. Again, those stats really don't mean much; it's defense versus the score. You still got to go up and make plays. The key to any fast break team is what I've said the whole season, three-and-outs. You got to get off the field and don't let them sustain drives. You got to tackle well and then you basically got to have some break-ups in the passing game. They have good receivers; the quarterback's playing very well for them; they run three different running backs back there. They're all cutback zone runners so you have to make sure you're gap-sound, gap security as far as the defense is concerned and we need to tackle well."             

 

On the play of the Marshall defense...

"I think eventually, you have to be able to stop the run and basically, run the ball yourself and if you can do those two things, you're going to play good defense because of ball control, field position and all that. It still comes back down to that. I don't think I'd want to be involved with a team that has to outscore somebody to win. I think eventually it's going to catch up to you when you face a team that can control the ball and can make you really struggle to get down there. Now, Marshall's done a good job. I think they're playing very well right now. So, we'll have our work cut out but our players understand what's ahead of them in the game and what we have to get done."   

 

On what has to happen to get the offense in sync...

"I think the key is, offensively, it starts behind center. [Blake Bortles] has to play consistently the whole game, the right way. You can't turn it over for a touchdown and we have to continually work on sustaining blocks. We're making good contact; we have to sustain the contact. I think that's the difference as far as what's taken place." 

 

On the impact of RB Latavius Murray returning to a starting role...

"I don't think people realize that he got hurt in the Akron game and a lot of our fan base and people don't understand that it takes a while to come back from a shoulder injury that was severe. He was out four weeks and probably, when we did bring him back ... I didn't think he was ready. Normally when I get shoulder guys back, I tell them to hit the sled with that shoulder and if I see any wincing or any of that, they're not ready to play, especially at running back because you're going to put the ball on the ground. I think that shoulder now is 100%. He got nicked up, basically, an ankle sprain about two weeks ago and that's why he was limited. He's full-go right now and he's the number one running back. I think he showed signs of why he's the number one running back on Saturday night with those runs and he continues to do that. I think we have very good guys that can go in and give him a breather but that is what they need to be doing - going in and giving him a breather. There's no order of running back by committee. He is the running back and we have two very capable running backs that can go in and help out whether with injuries or just to give him a blow. That's how I spoke to the offensive staff this week."       

 

On Bortles not turning the ball over but not being as precise...

"I think he's making good decisions. I only thought last week he was late in his decisions. That's where he got into his problems. I don't think he was setting up correctly and I think, sometimes, young guys want to wait for the perfect throw instead of taking what's available right now. We had three sacks last week and I thought [for] two of them the ball should have been gone. It's not the offensive line; it was more on the quarterback holding on to the ball and I hate to see that guy doing this with the ball. When that back foot plants, get rid of the ball. There should be a time clock in your head going off saying, 'Hey, if it's not out, you're going to have problems.' He's worked hard this week on planting and delivering and planting, hitching and delivering. There are different deals with what we have but I think it comes back to decisions, making quicker decisions."

 

On the future schedules for the next two seasons...

"I do know that we already have four non-conference games scheduled and I'm trying to make some changes there. South Carolina I know is home for us next year and then the ACC just went from a nine game conference schedule to eight, so we're trying to hook up with some of those guys to get something, to get a game here and a home-and-home type situation. I like playing a good non-conference schedule. I always liked doing that. I think it's great for fans, great for our player competition and to see exactly where you're at. I really don't know much about what the BIG EAST is doing. I think we're going to be geographic with rival-type situations. We're opposite of South Florida. Cincinnati is opposite Louisville. Rutgers is opposite Connecticut. You try to get rival-type situations done but it hasn't been done. I still think they're trying to add a team and I think there's three or four teams in the running there. They're all good schools but again, we could use one more team. Navy gets freed up in the 2015 season to join up and the big problem is that we're probably going to have another team to get it to 16. It's in the works. I think the new commissioner of the BIG EAST is a sharp cat, Mike Aresco. I think he's on top of all that."

 

On scheduling...

"We have trouble getting games. It's always home-and-home. The schedule for next year, if it stays the same, we have seven home games. But I think there are one or two games that we have to look at with the schedule and try to get an ACC team in here or something like that because we can afford it with the seven home games to go home-and-home, away or whatever we have to do. I think that's better for our schedule especially now with the power ratings coming out. It makes a big deal of who you play. It's going to hurt the other teams and they get a big paycheck but it's not helping you as far as the rankings are concerned or the power rankings. So, you're going to see a lot more of the traditional top-10 teams looking for more big games instead of trying to buy a game and do that. I think it's especially going to hurt the power ratings as far as the BCS which is what you're looking at."

 

On the most memorable Marshall matchup...

"Probably the first win (in 2005). How can you forget that? I think that was probably the most memorable. I've been through now three coaches with Marshall. Bob Pruett was there then Mark Snyder now Doc Holliday. That's the problem with Conference USA is you see a different coach every couple years whether they elevate or get replaced. I look forward to the games with Conference USA and I think, basically, I like playing in the weather we play out in. I'm not sure what Huntington will be like Saturday night but there will be a great crowd there, it'll be loud. It's going to be a very physical, tough ballgame."

 

On the play of P Jamie Boyle...

"I think his hang time is critical as far as any punt. He really, for a first-year punter, has gone unnoticed as far what he's done in the game. You have a lot of these punters that average 42, 43 and they're putting everything in the end zone. It's selfish. He's the complete team player and is willing to drop the ball inside the 10. That's what we look at with sky-kicking. That's what he did when Kemal (Ishmael) got the ball on the 1-yard line this past game and plus, he's getting great hang time, so, you have a chance to cover it and we're very good as far as punt return coverage because they're not getting a chance to return it, they're sitting, waiting for it. I've said before to be in the top-10 in the country, you're at 38.9 and you're right there. Sometimes, these guys kicking it 50, 55 and they're outkicking their coverage and those guys back there are pretty good when they get in open space. They're tough. In the pros it happens a lot, they outkick their coverage all the time and now they're starting to (get hang time or) kick it out of bounds with some of the returners they have there. I think Jamie's done a great job for a first year punter, really coming in not knowing if he was going to be the guy but he sure won the job and he hasn't looked back since he took the job."

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