Jan. 2, 2014
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Fiesta Bowl 1st Half Photo Gallery |
THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach O'Leary for some opening comments and then go to questions for the coach.
COACH O'LEARY: Well, obviously it was a great win for UCF, the fan base. Everybody came out from Orlando. I thought the kids went out and executed what they were coached all week and back on campus.
I think defensively didn't stop them but slowed them down enough so our offense could put points on the board. I thought the offense went out and executed very well pretty much the entire game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach O'Leary.
Q. With everything you've gone through with this program, building it from day one, what did it mean to you to experience what you experienced in those final seconds and the celebration on the field?
COACH O'LEARY: Well, I'm very happy for the program. I've always deflected everything to the players. You know, players win football games. Coaches just get them in the right direction.
I'm happy for the administration, everybody that's involved with the program. You sort of get a chance to win a BCS game. It's a great point in any coach's career. I thought the way the game went today, it was a game that was probably a fun game to watch if you're in the stands. It wasn't a fun game to watch from the sidelines. But I thought it worked out really well.
Great win and we'll take that win back with us to Orlando.
Q. What do you think this means for UCF? Does this give you some legitimacy?
COACH O'LEARY: Excuse me? What the hell kind of question was that? Some legitimacy?
I think basically, you know, it gave us some legitimacy (smiling).
No, I think anytime you win 12 games in a season, it's great for your program, I think great for everybody that's associated with the program.
We played a lot of good football teams throughout the years, did well, proved our legitimacy as far as what was taking place.
But, again, I think a win like today I think is great because it's national exposure. It's great for the program, it's great for the players, it's great for the school, just the notoriety you get. I don't think you can buy that marketing from anywhere, the exposure you get in a game like today.
It's a great win. It's a great feeling for everything that we went through with the program. I've been there 10 years now. Each year we've chipped away, tried to get a little more done with the program. You don't do that unless you have a lot of people that are supporting you, and we did.
Again, I give all the credit to the players, the assistant coaches that went off and did what they had to get done. Really went after this game against a really good Baylor team.
I thought Baylor was explosive on offense, solid on defense. I thought the team went out and executed very well.
Q. Talk about overcoming the turnovers.
COACH O'LEARY: Sloppy. One after the other. The defense saved them on the one with the pick.
But, again, anytime you turn it over three times, you're usually not at the winning end of the game. I thought the kids were resilient as far as getting things done, coming after them and after them.
Offensively we changed tempo a little bit. Went to some fast ball ourselves, which helped us. I thought the second half we defensively hung in there. It wasn't always pretty, but I thought the effort to get things done was outstanding.
Q. 52 points is the most you ever put up against a ranked opponent. With all the talk about Baylor's offense in the game, can you talk about how you had the dominant unit tonight?
COACH O'LEARY: I think you have some players coming in you can talk to about that.
Any time you get chunk plays, you get long-distance plays, you're going to put the ball in the end zone. I thought we mixed it up fairly well tonight. The kicking game was good.
Again, we scored against ranked opponents, you said, right?
COACH O'LEARY: We've scored more than 52 against people.
I think they put it all together. As I said earlier in the week, I thought the offense feeds off the defense, the defense feeds off the offense. They played well as far as chemistry was concerned. It wasn't always pretty, but I think they helped each other out in a lot of different ways with field position.
Q. Can you talk about the season in general, the demeanor of your team always answering the bell, never quitting.
COACH O'LEARY: I tell you, we had every big win in the school history this year. You give credit to the players. As I said earlier, I think they had resiliency about them. Something you really can't coach.
You can coach playing hard, but playing hard when things aren't going well is most difficult. I think they accomplished that. I was very pleased for them and what they did.
The big thing was we were a young team. We only had the seven seniors. A lot of these kids are coming back. Big lesson learned this year when you do some good things, the good rewards that you get out of it.
Q. You looked pretty happy. How long do you get to enjoy this before it's back to normal for recruiting, next year?
COACH O'LEARY: Right now with that new dead period with college football, you're not allowed to go anywhere until after January 15th. I'll be around. After that I'll be on the road looking at some kids recruiting-wise.
I'm anxious to get out of here so I can enjoy myself as far as what's going on. I've been here all week. I haven't been to the hospitality room yet. I may pay that a visit tonight (smiling).
Q. I'm scared this is going to make you repeat the answer. When I spoke with Brent Key, who has been with you for over a decade, you never allow yourself to have the 'wow' moments, it's always what's next. Was there finally that 'wow' moment at some point or do you start to think where you can take this program going forward?
COACH O'LEARY: Do I look excited? I'm very excited, I just don't show it like you do, all right? I'm very excited. There's other things that excite me, too.
Right now I'm excited for just the players, the fans, just the whole program. I know how much work went into getting where we had to get to, how much work the players had to get to where we are.
I'm ecstatic. You never remain the same. You either get better or worse in football. Right away we get back, school starts on Monday, the 6th. We'll be in the weight room on Monday. There's no time off. We're right back to work.
The players really like that, I know they do. I could tell by their faces they really thoroughly enjoy that stuff (smiling).
That's how you get better. There's no time off. They're student-athletes. They do well in the classroom, but they also have to understand, if you have to keep improving, you have to keep working. That's the culture of the program a little bit.
Q. Did you intend to use Blake as much of a runner as you did? What does this add to your attack when he can do that?
COACH O'LEARY: They were climbing the runningback a little bit. We've always had those plays in the repertoire as far as calling them. They just gave him the play a little bit more where he kept it. Most of the time they have somebody on him taking him away. They were closing on the running back back a little hard and he kept it. The draw we had put in for this team.
He can run. He makes plays on the run as far as keeping his vision downfield. But all those plays were plays that we had in the package all year, they just weren't added. They just read them real well today and got north and south with the ball.
Q. What can you say about the job the wide receivers were able to do blocking downfield?
COACH O'LEARY: I thought outstanding. I always said you want us to throw you the ball, you got to be able to block. Any time you see chunk plays in the run game, you usually have a receiver corps that's blocking well downfield.
I thought they did a great job of getting hands on people, they were on their feet. Again, I thought the runners did a good job of utilizing them downfield as far as blockers were concerned.
It's a complete game. I don't think there's one person you point to that he was the difference in the game. I think everybody had a piece in the game, from offense, to defense, to special teams. That's how I look at it. It's a team game. It's a 'we' game for us. There's no 'mes' on the team as far as I'm concerned. You understand you're trying to be the best teammate you can.
Q. You said coming into this game you didn't think your team played their best game of the season. Do you think they played their best game of the season tonight?
COACH O'LEARY: I think they played parcel of the best game at a lot of different times. Obviously I don't think three turnovers were very good, right (smiling)?
The one thing is the defense we made up from, two lead to touchdowns. The key, as we said all year, is worry about the next play. That's what we did. They took care of business.
I'm happy. I think, you know, the team played well. They had some moments there where we didn't play as well. The one thing I told them, there can't be any three-and-outs. I think we had like three of them or four of them tonight. The rest were succession plays, which kept the field moving, which was great in giving us a long field and them a short field a lot of times.
Q. Can you speak to Blake's general performance, and how his composure helped you guys away from that stretch of turnovers?
COACH O'LEARY: I don't know that he did. How do you know that? How do you know that?
Q. Just based on what I saw.
COACH O'LEARY: What you saw. All right.
I thought he lost his composure on those three plays, right?
Blake Bortles: Uh-huh (smiling).
COACH O'LEARY: He's been like that all year. I'm only kidding with him.
He's never really high, never really low, he's always right in the middle. He's always kept his posture where it needs to be. You're 100% right. I think he came back and made some big plays with his legs and also turned some plays that could have been very bad for us, into really good plays getting the ball downfield.
I think he played extremely well. You got the MVP, right?
Blake Bortles: Yup.
COACH O'LEARY: He deserved it. I think he played very well.
Q. Tyson Summers called the defense the top-ranked offense in the country. How do you he did and how do you think the defense responded?
COACH O'LEARY: I think Tyson did a great job. I didn't get far from him on the sideline. I think the defense responded very well. I think Tyson worked extremely hard at getting ready for that game, understood what he had to take away defensively from an offensive standpoint. I thought the players responded very well to him.
I was very pleased with him. I said after the game, Great job, great job, because I thought he did a great job, not just calling some things, but also tempering things so you can make corrections and move on from there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Blake, you've been here through a lot of things for UCF. You were a redshirt freshman when they won their first ever bowl game, now the first BCS bowl game. Talk about what it's meant for you to progress through the whole program and what legacy you think you may leave here.
Blake Bortles: Leaving a legacy is really nothing you have any control over yourself. It's about each week going out and preparing and getting the job done.
Like coach said, it's a 'we' thing, not a 'me' thing. Building chemistry on and off the field is what we strive on. Hopefully that will be my legacy at the end, He was a big team guy, he played well with other people and he was part of a successful team.
Q. Blake, when you ran the touchdown, seemed like you looked back and you were surprised you were so open. Could you comment on that.
Blake Bortles: That was the second time we had gone back to the play. The first time, you know, had a little mishap. 85, Kevin made a great block outside. Torrian did a good job of getting up to the outside backer.
I guess he fell down or something. I guess he was behind me. They did a great job of blocking that play up.
Q. Terrance, despite what the defense has accomplished, coming into this game, people were saying it was the weakness of the team. Did you get a sense of momentum building at certain points in the game when you were able to get off the field on third downs?
Terrance Plummer: Us on defense, you know, we're going through that all week. Coach telling us we had a big challenge coming up, those guys were fast. We had the challenge of getting lined up, getting set up, playing our assignments.
Us on the defense, I think we took the challenge and we at times in the game were able to make the stops, get the offensive ball back. I think we did a real good job of that.
We did give up points, but at the same time we were able to get the offense the ball back so they could do what they do.
Q. Rannell, what were you able to do to break away and make the two touchdowns?
Rannell Hall: Before the pass was intended to me out of my peripheral vision, I seen a safety biting down hard. Before I caught the ball, I was able to read down on the safety, make a great run, use my God-given ability.
Q. Rannell, how were you able to create so much space, the separation?
Rannell Hall: Every day in practice we go full gear just about every day. Coming out, giving great effort in practice. I feel like it paid off tonight. Going hard in the weight room, I feel like that's been a key thing all season. Coming out tonight, it just paid off.
Q. Storm, two touchdowns early on those first couple drives. A key moment when you needed to score, you broke off that 40-yarder. What were you able to do to establish the line of scrimmage?
Storm Johnson: We went over the play over and over again in practice. The line did an awesome job of creating the holes and separation for me to get through.
The blocking downfield from the receivers was amazing, too. That's how I was able to get the touchdown.
Q. Blake, I know you have some thinking to do about your future at UCF. How much will your performance in this game impact the thought process?
Blake Bortles: Yeah, I said before, it didn't matter. Had no clue. Wasn't worried about any part of it. Just wanted to win this game, help this team be victorious. That's all I'm worried about now, getting this trophy back to Orlando and celebrating.
Q. Blake, what does it mean that most of the guys sitting up there weren't recruited by the 'big-time' schools, yet you are obviously big-time players?
Blake Bortles: It's awesome to be a part of this. We came in together. We're all within one year of each other. We weren't highly touted guys out of high school. We came to UCF on a mission.
The guys in front of us really paved the way, back to '07, those years. We just tried to continue to build on the foundation they laid out for us. We're going to try to keep that going.
Q. Blake, can you talk about the receiving corp.
Blake Bortles: They do everything well. There's five guys we got that can do anything. They run well, block well, they're physical guys that can make plays after they have the ball in their hands. We've been together for years now. I think the chemistry we get going, seven-on-seven in the summer, is a huge part of how we're able to be successful on the field.
Q. Terrance, a lot of you guys on the stage are underclassmen. What does this mean for next year, this win?
Terrance Plummer: I think this win helps us build on what we want to accomplish for next year. Every year it's to win a conference championship. The younger guys, they have experience this year, it's going to help next year. Us as a defense and offense can play even better.
Q. Terrance, a lot of talk about Bryce Petty heading into the game. Can you talk about what it was like to play against him. Did it live up to the hype?
Terrance Plummer: Definitely. I think he did a great job out there. We were able to get a turnover on him at a key point in the game. Other than that, I think he was everything we were expecting him to be. A good guy passing the ball and he was good athletically running. He was definitely everything we thought of and I'm glad we came out with the victory.
Q. Blake and Storm, that opening drive, you went the length of a field without throwing a pass. Do you feel that made a statement?
Storm Johnson: Yeah, it did. Blake did a really good job of reading what he had to read. We got down the field, it was amazing blocks, too. I think it made a big statement.
Blake Bortles: That was huge. You couldn't have drawn up an opening drive better than that. To be able to come out and really go right down the field at will really. The offensive line did a great job up front. Storm has great vision and was able to find holes. I think I kept one and was able to make something happen.
It was a really good opening drive.
Q. Terrance, when the offense was there in victory formation, I noticed Coach O'Leary didn't get a Gatorade bath. Is that something he doesn't like?
Terrance Plummer: I have no clue. I was over there standing excited to win the game. I have no clue why we didn't bathe him up. But it is what it is. Happy to get the victory. Maybe we'll get him later on when we get to Orlando.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.