Oct. 9, 2007
UCF's Weekly Press Conference
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - UCF Head Coach George O'Leary met the media on Tuesday in the interview room at Bright House Networks Stadium for his weekly press conference. O'Leary discussed the Knights (3-2, 1-1 C-USA) upcoming tilt with No. 5 USF (5-0, 1-0 Big East) in Tampa as well as the setback to East Carolina.
Kickoff for the contest between the two Sunshine state schools is set for Noon on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPNU. This is the third-consecutive year the two teams have faced off in the regular season.
Below is a transcription of selected comments from the press conference. A complete audio file is available to All-Access Subscribers by clicking on the link above.
"Just in review of the last game - it was disappointing from the standpoint, offensively, when we put over 500 yards or close to it on the board and 30 first downs to 16, you just cannot put the ball on the ground and that is what we did with five turnovers. That is something that you cannot do in any game. Other than that, I thought offensively besides those five plays, we did a pretty good job offensively in doing the right things. Defensively, I did not think they played as well as they should have played, from a standpoint of assignment football and really special teams. Mainly kickoff coverage was a nemesis for us. I have covered it with the team as far as the mistakes made and what we have to do to get it corrected."
On the USF game:
"Not very often you have an opportunity to play a team that is in the top five in the country. So, it is a great opportunity for us to go over to Tampa and play the No. 5 team in the country. I think that the big thing is that I like in-state games. I think it is something that creates a lot of interest from the fan base for both schools. I know we are not having trouble putting people in the seats with the new stadium. I think it helps both schools out by attracting a crowd they need just to show the interest and enthusiasm behind the in-state schools. That is with any in-state schools you play, there is always a greater interest. I have always been a big believer in that if you can play instate, especially with the four non-conference games, I just think it is smart to do that. Not be looking for out of conference games outside the state. If you can play it in-state, I think you are much better off from a fan base, a player interest and obviously a travel standpoint."
What are your long term goals for UCF?
"I think the same thing. I have not changed our statement when I first got here. You want to be in the top 25, initially, and then grow from there. I think all the pieces are in place to get that done and there is no question that we lost the game Saturday night, but we are playing much better football then we played the first three years as far as I am concerned. We are sort of shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers, but as far as moving the ball and doing things that we need to do to get points on the boards. I think that we are doing that. I look at turnovers and all of them have been a result of moving the ball. Basically, you look at the blocked punt and the ball is on the 18-yard line, we are going in and we throw a pick. That is a 14-point swing. So, I think it is things like that we have to overcome and continue to understand that ball security is very important. The goal is to be a very competitive Division I program each week and out with the opportunity to win each game you play. That is really what it is about when you are coaching at this level."
What stands out about USF Quarterback Matt Grothe?
"I just think he is a very smart quarterback that has a canny ability to know where the windows are in the passing game, to basically redirect very well and to have great [elusiveness] as a quarterback. I think what he has done is that he is always the trigger guy. I think with the ball in his hands, I think he eludes someone and finds an open receiver down field. He makes a guy miss at the line of scrimmage and it is a six or seven-yard gain. I think he is a tough kid that runs well and gets key first downs on third down."
How important is this game to you and your team?
"I think that it is important to us because it is the next game and it is an in-state game. I think you always want to do well for recruiting purposes for that. Everybody says it does not matter. Of course it matters, if it did not matter, then why do they throw it in your face during recruiting. I think it does matter and the big thing is that it is very important. When I look at our fan base, I get more mail, e-mails, and calls about South Florida for the last four weeks. I was getting that mail before the Texas game. Our fans have a great interest. I think just because of the closeness and we have a lot of young fans just like they do that sometimes they talk before they think. I think the more traditional schools that have long term tradition, they do not get involved as much about talking about stuff, rather they do it on the field."
What stands out defensively for USF?
"I think they have a good scheme. I think that they are very well-coached. You can see a lot of experience with their kids. They do not make a lot of mistakes and they make quick adjustments if you hurt them in certain areas, which is a sign of coaching. I think when the kids play, they are playing fast. This year's front is a lot quicker than last year's front. Again, they have two corners that can play well. Anytime when you have two corners that can play well, you can shut people down on the passing game and then play around with the other nine guys. They do a very good job of that."
What are you focused on more, the fact that they have two great corners or the nation's leading sacker, George Selvie?
"[Selvie] is a good player. I worry more about corners. You can protect against great rushers. There is only one way to get off those corners - the receivers have to win out there. Really, when you can take two receivers out of the game, it only leaves you with one or two others to hit and they have five guys to defend on them. So, I always worry about great corners because you can protect within your [schemes] against a great rusher and do things that will delay him a little bit. The corners, you have to win routes out there. I think both have good experience 4 and 21,[Mike] Jenkins and [Trae] Williams. They both have good experience out there. I think they have good transition to the ball and good ball skills. That is what has impressed me is that they keep good vision on the ball. Most good corners, in my experience when I work with them, is that they are receivers that are just playing on defense. When the ball is in the air, they turn into a receiver. The DBs who do not make it, they are defending all the time. The great corners act like receivers. When the ball is in the air, they are receivers. They don't act like a defender all the time. Both those guys have good ball skills with that."