UCF Football Media Day Press Conference Comments


GO KNIGHTS There was a lot to discuss during media day Aug. 1.
GO KNIGHTS
There was a lot to discuss during media day Aug. 1.
GO KNIGHTS

Aug. 1, 2013

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF Head Coach George O'Leary spoke for approximately 30 minutes at the Knights' annual media day Thursday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Check out some of the transcript of the press conference below.

Opening statement...
"I'll just make a comment about the American, the new conference we're heading to. You know, it gives us the opportunity to play at the highest level and the conference championship, now, a different deal with a BCS game involved there. Again, we have a lot to look forward to. I'm very impressed with the administration of the American Conference. Mike Aresco, the commissioner, I like the way he runs his meetings. He runs them right, understands what he has to get done. This year, everything that we've had in the past is involved with the Big East, as far as the bowl games are concerned. So, I think it's a great opportunity for UCF to get there and then play at the top level you have to play at as far as Division I football is concerned."

On UCF's chance of winning the American ...
"We play 12 one-game seasons and we line [them] up one at a time. I don't really look at rankings or media predictions or anything else. I think the way they rank them, us [being] fourth, was probably knowing what happened last year in the conference is accurate. But you never know any given Saturday. There's going to be people knocking each other off and I think you have as good of an opportunity as anybody else."

On this year's strength of schedule compared to past seasons ...
"We've played some pretty good opponents out of conference in the past years, so out of conference I always try to schedule a tough out-of-conference schedule. I think we have one of the better ones in our conference as far as the opponents but again, probably in the years I've been here, this is my 10th season, this is probably the most competitive schedule we've had."

On the NCAA's new targeting rule ...
"Well, I haven't talked to (the players) about it yet, but we've had officials in with the players, in the spring. The new targeting rule is with any helmet-to-helmet, the person is disqualified from the game. ... It's a reviewable play and I think it's a very tough call for the officials because it's a bang-bang play; it happens that quickly. But the initial reason for targeting was really for guys lining guys up, coming across the middle and you know, they weren't going for the ball at all, there was strictly a man involved there. Again, I think it's a good rule for protection of the players. I still argue the point that if you get charged with targeting, as a reviewable, and they overturn it, why is it still a 15-yard penalty? When you look at statistics, I bet it's in the high 70s or 80s, you get hit with a 15-yard penalty, you'll never make it up as far as getting a first down that series. Again, it's a big penalty and I think that's probably one aspect of targeting they'll have to review next season. To me, it's with the quarterback. Any contact above the shoulder pads is going to be called. Any crown hits as far as the players are concerned. Guys on the ground and a kid comes in and puts the crown of his helmet [in]...those are the ones causing the injuries. Obviously, they're going to be there to protect the quarterbacks as far as any slaps to the head or helmet to the head or any of the crown to the chest. The bang-bang plays across the middle, I think they're going to make calls and they're judgment calls, and they're reviewable. I don't think it should take any of the aggressiveness out of your defense though. Any rule they make, whether it's in the pros or any level, it is always geared toward the offense. But I think right now is that you got to still teach. Tackling is an art."

On UCF's chance to deliver on a national stage this season ...
"I think you're judged on your out-of-conference wins. The conference itself has a perception already, just like there is one with the SEC, the Big Ten, the PAC-12 and so on. I think the perception, and I've always said that, within conference you're going to have very competitive teams and I think out of conference is where the nation judges you. How'd you fair against Penn State? How'd you fair against all the different teams out of all the different conferences you'll play? They play a bunch of them and you got to win those games. If you want to sit there and play that way, you got to beat these people and that's what the nature of the game is. In conference, you're going to play competitive teams and you'll be a champion, but you're still going to go back to how well did you do out of conference against the very competitive out-of-conference teams."

On the buzz due to playing USF ...
"That's probably, in our conference, the only natural rivalry game. If you look at the teams in the conference, everybody else is a state away. That's the natural game. Those are the games you want to be playing. Those are the rivalry games that draw everyone's attention. Alabama-Auburn, Georgia-Georgia Tech, [and] right down the line. Not just in football but overall as far as to get that I-4 corridor excited about the games, excited about football. I think it's a great economy game for both schools, home and away. I think you're going to fill your stadiums and I just think that's a natural game. Again, we got 10 to 11 games to play before that game and obviously the week of that game there's going to be a lot of excitement. Since I've been here, USF has been the game [our fans] have always talked about, and I've been trying to play them since I've been here as far as each and every year. So I'm glad that we are in a conference with a chance to line up each year and it's at the right time; Thanksgiving weekend, a Friday game, and ... it'll be a TV game. I think there'll be a lot of excitement from both sides, the Tampa area and the Orlando area."

On the impact of graduating seniors and having a young defense ...
"Well, we played a lot of players. We played eight players up front. I think we have a lot of players that played a lot. I'm more concerned when they haven't seen the field because of the speed of the game catches up to them a little bit. I've been very pleased so far, but we've been in our underwear. I think when you put the pads on, life changes for a lot of those young men. That's what separates the people and that's the way it should be if your program is where it needs to be. It's going to be very, very difficult for any freshmen to get in the two-deep, I think, watching the past couple of days. Not because they aren't good players, because I think there are players that were around for two years now and it's their turn and they understand what's going on. But there are a couple of freshmen that I think [are] just guys that get it; they don't act like freshmen and those guys have a chance to play."

On the experience of the offensive side of the ball ...
"Offensively, I'd probably say it's the most explosive offense since I've been here. I think we've always run the ball fairly well and I think the statistics show up for that. But the passing game, right now, with all the receivers back - really the only player that's gone that touched the ball last year was Latavius Murray - I think, is a lot more explosive in the passing game. We're always going to be able to run the ball because I firmly believe that you win championships by stopping the run and being able to run the ball. You can throw it all you want but eventually, you have to stop the run and be able to run the ball yourself, at any level, whether it's pros, college or high school. We're solid on offense, I think, from a depth standpoint, from an experience standpoint. I think that the first two days that's what has really shown up. The freshmen class or the new kids are all good players, but the other kids are so much more experienced right now, just from the couple of years they've been in the program. It shows, just from the speed of the game and the reaction, the speed of reaction you see from the older kids. Defensively, we're always going to play good defense. I'm not going to let us not play good defense. I think they got to keep you in every game, defensively. Offensively, they might have a bad day, but the defense can't have one. They got to be able to line up [and] be very stingy. The only stat I look at is defense versus the score. That's the one I care about. They put out all these other stats. We have goals and our goal hasn't changed: win the conference championship. But there are all sorts of other individual goals and unit goals; defensively, we don't want to give up more than 17 points a game. Now that may be low, but we'd win with 22 points last year and I think that gives your offense a chance to win. We're always going to do that, but we always have to put an emphasis on defense as far as stopping people. Now, they may give up some yardage but I think, keep them out of the endzone is what it's all about."

On the depth at wide receiver ...
"There's only one ball, but I think the guys out there all have a role. It's just that you may not be catching the ball, but you got a lot of other things to do. We have to get a lot better at blocking after a catch, with YAC. We've made some very terrific catches; Perriman makes catches that look very easy that are difficult catches...he's a good player. We got to start getting more YAC, more yards after the catch. We got to start, I use the word BOB, body-on-body; basically have more guys getting a body on a body after a catch so we get more yards after a catch. You don't have to throw the ball 80 yards every time but when you throw it 10, you want to get six, seven, eight yards after the catch and that happens because you got guys downfield protecting the carrier. We got to get better at that so they can catch it, but they understand that if they're not going to block, they're not going to be out there. If you want the ball, you'll block. That's what I always tell the receivers if they want more touches. The better blocker you are, the more touches you're going to get and that goes hand in hand. I think Sean Beckton, the receiver coach, works extremely hard at getting that phase of the game. He knows, he's played the position; he knows what you need to get done."

On what he expects out of QB Blake Bortles ...
"Well, I think Blake really culminated his season in the bowl game. Basically, he was like most first-year starters. They all come in; I think they're very talented athletes but those spiders on the other side move a little too fast for them but as they play each game, they slow down a little bit. So now, you know where you're going with the ball, you know what your reads are and you get a lot more confident in what you're doing. I think that's what Blake is. You like guys that have some range, that can see downfield, that are athletics enough to avoid a rush, so it's not just a thrower and he's not just a drop-back thrower. He can play-action, he can boot, and the one thing that all the good quarterbacks can do and I don't care where you're at, what school you're at, they take a bad play and they make a good play out of it and that's what the good ones do. The [offensive] coordinator calls a play, and they are both getting paid salaries, the defensive coordinator who's defending, so there are going to be a lot of bad plays called. But I think the good quarterbacks, if they have the right check system, can get you into a good play with a bad look. So that's the stage I think Blake is at. I think he was staring guys down last year, earlier, and if you're a good DB, you're flying on his look. I think he got to the second, third receiver as the season went on which is basically going to spread the field more and make your defender feel more. He has that ability. He's only getting better and better as you play the game and the one thing he has, which I've always said the good ones have, it's not cockiness, it's just they're extremely confident that they can get things done. I think there's a difference. The cocky ones just talk, they don't back it up. He doesn't talk a lot, he's quiet in fact, but I think he's very good and confident that he has enough arm to deliver the ball where it needs to be and he's confident that he knows what defenses do and what the reads are and where the ball should be, whether run or pass. You don't want to be running up hill and where to attack the defense in coverage. I think that's where he has gotten better and I think he's only going to continue to get better and better as he sees more and more playing time."

 

 

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