Oct. 23, 2007
UCF Football 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' 44-23 victory over Tulsa and their upcoming Conference USA East Division match-up with Southern Miss.
UCF will play Southern Miss on Sunday night, marking the first time the program has played on the first day of the week. The Knights and Golden Eagles will play in front of a national television audience at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Below is a transcription of selected comments from the press conference. A complete audio file is available on-line at www.ucfathletics.com.
"Just to recap last week's game. I thought it was a game, probably the first game this season, where we played a complete game as far as offense and defense complementing each other and the kicking game. That was my speech to the players after the game. I thought we played on all cylinders on offense, defense, and the kicking game. It was a good win against a good football team.
"As far as this week is concerned, I think it is a very pivotal game in conference with Southern Miss against a very solid football team. I am sure that they will have their quarterback [Jeremy Young] back, who has missed the last three games. Sunday night, a national TV game, so again we will have our work cut out for us. It should be a line of scrimmage game up front and both teams have big play potential as far as with their running backs. I think the game will be a game that hopefully gets into the fourth quarter and I think the team that can eliminate the big plays will come out the winner."
What will the environment be like in Southern Miss for a Sunday Night on ESPN?
What does Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher give their offense?
"I think as I told our players the big thing is that we have not taken our home intensity to away games. I think our fan base has had a lot to do with that as far as getting into the game and creating a noise factor. We just have to take that same thing and understand it is a Sunday night. I do not know how many are traveling to the game, but I would not anticipate a lot being (able to) with it on Sunday night. Again that has no bearing on how we should play, we still have to play on the grass. We are not playing in the stands. It is something like anything else - you have to take the home crowd out of the game with some solid football play on offense and defense. Again, I think it is a pivotal game in conference. Is it the end of the season? No, but I think it is a pivotal game as far as the division is concerned."
"I think Damion had a great freshman year and he has continued on in his sophomore year. Anytime you see a running back, just like Kevin, you have an offensive line that is putting hats on people creating lanes in the running game. I think Damion is a good running back that can beat you outside or inside and they are throwing the ball more to him this year, also. I think that the quarterback, [Stephen] Reaves is one that has impressed me from the first game that they put him in the Boise game, right through the season. You could see his progression as a quarterback and how he has settled in a little bit. I would think the Jeremy Young kid, if he is available, will play. They both run the same type of offense, but Jeremy uses his feet a little bit more."
Last week scoring points was not much of a problem. What needs to occur on the offensive side of the ball for the team to succeed?
"I think that when we have an opportunity to score points, we need to score in the red zone. Obviously, both teams are playing well in the special team's area. I think what is usually looked at in games like this is the field position and making sure that you create short fields for your offense and long fields when the defense is out there. Again, I know our players. Saturday, we will fly out of here and get ready to play on Sunday. We just push one day back as far as the week is concerned. So today is actually Monday for the players. We will continue to work through Saturday and then get on a flight and get over to Hattiesburg."
With some more upperclassmen stepping up over the past couple of weeks. What do you think about the depth of this team?
"It is funny, I just ran the team (after) practice. I had the seniors run first, then the juniors, sophomores, and freshman. I never talk about the youth of a football team, but when you run the seniors first and then the juniors, you still have all these kids standing there that have not run yet, sophomores and freshman. It says a lot about the depth of the team. Again, I think there is nothing new that is going to happen. We have played away games before and I think we just have to make sure that we get done what we have to get done - control what we have to control on offense, defense, and in the special teams game.
"I think good football teams have competition. Sometimes freshman have to understand that every week is a new week. You cannot live on your past laurels and stuff. I think that was good that Sergio [Joachim] really came back, fought, and worked hard to get some things done. I think he had nine catches there. Michael Merritt who has done a yeomen's job at tight end as far as in blocking situations, I was happy to see them get the ball. I always tell the players that if you want to be on the field more, you have to be more versatile. You have to be able to play more than one position, especially if you are a skilled athlete. That is what limits the freshman a little bit, they are still trying to learn the position that they play. They just have to understand that there are a bunch of kids out there that can get playing time. When you have an opportunity to make a play, you have to make it. I think that is one of the things that I have been trying to stress with the freshman. It is not alright at this stage to make mistakes. Alright, you are no longer a freshman, you are a sophomore."