Dec. 3, 2005
Here's a look at what players and coaches from both teams had to say following Tulsa's 44-27 victory in the Inaugural Conference USA Football Championship Game.
Tulsa Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe
Opening Remarks -"I am really proud of this football team. It has been a challenging, up -and -down year for us. They have shown a tremendous amount of resiliency and really worked hard in practice. When we lost a very close game, they jumped right back up. They got back on the practice field on Monday and put their nose to the grindstone in an effort to get better and I think that is the mark of a good team; a team that can jump right back up because it shows a tremendous amount of character on the part of these players. I am very proud to be a part of this team. They deserve the credit. They come and bust their tails everyday; they are eager to learn, eager to be coached. These guys really stepped up today. I cannot be more proud and I am really honored to be their coach.
On Halftime --
"-I thought we did a really good job of maintaining our rush lanes and containing Steven Moffett. We forced him to step up and make some tough throws and fortunately we were able to intercept them. We also did a great job on pressuring the quarterback. I really feel we minimized his impact, especially on the naked-bootlegs and some of the plays he made early on in the game and in the beginning of the third quarter."
On UCF Scoring after field goal -
"I thought it was big because the crowd did get loud and back into it. However, I think playing at Norman and El Paso helped because those are tough places to play. We have been in those types of venues before and we were not really phased by them. We knew coming into this game it was going to be 60 minutes long or even more, like the overtime session we went to against Memphis. Our mindset was that we have to do whatever it takes to win this football game, to score one more point is what we have to get done. It was very big in the game to re-cease the momentum. We had the momentum, lost it, but we were able to gain it back. It was certainly big in the game.
On pre-game preparations -
"We stayed focused. They did a great job. We had a great practice and an excellent walk-through. We also had a great meeting, special-teams wise and offense and defense-wise.
On defensive performance in the second half --
"I think the biggest thing was that we got them in some down and distant situations where they were going to have to throw the football. Again, we were able to contain the rush and keep Moffett in the pocket. By doing that we were able to force him to make some tough throws and force turnovers. We did a great job of keeping the ball in front of us on the first drive of the game and not let it be thrown over our head. After that, we were able to do the same thing for the rest of the game and really make them earn whatever they were going to get from a yardage standpoint and a points standpoint.
On character of the team --
"It is a testament to their character of continuing to persevere everyday. To me, that is the true test of a man; it is not the fact that you get knocked down but what you do when you get back up. They have really bought into everything we teach and talk about. They have done a great job or representing not only our football program but also the university and the city of Tulsa as well."
Tulsa Tight End Garrett Mills-
"We went into the game ready to adapt, no matter what they did. I remember in the second-half they pressured me a little bit more at the line but we were still able to run the ball"
UCF Head Coach George O'Leary
"I think you have to give Tulsa a lot of credit. They are a very fine football team and were the better football team today. I thought they controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. I thought they came in and made plays both offensively and defensively. Tulsa played well and I have great respect for what they have done. We can't turn the ball over like we did and we had some foolish penalties. Give them credit, they played well and were the better football team today.
On the play of Steven Moffett
"I don't think he played as well as we have seen him play. I think he was trying to make plays instead of letting the flow of the game take over. He just made some silly mistakes as far as running with the ball and then trying to throw on the run. He has been our quarterback through the eight wins and by no means was the reason for today's loss. I think when you lose you lose as a team. I think there are a lot of individuals that could have played better.
On the absence of Mike Walker
"I don't think we missed Mike Walker, I just don't think we established the line of scrimmage. I think we went the whole day without any consistency. For us to throw well we have to run too, and I think that was inconsistent. I think Steven does play better. I think Tulsa closed the coverage on some of our guys very well and Steven tried to aim the ball instead of just letting the flight of the ball take over.
On trying to cover Garret Mills
"We had double coverage and the kid blew the coverage on the first catch. In the second half we started doubling up a little bit and I think he only had the one catch. We didn't collapse the line of scrimmage enough. In the third quarter there were too much running yards in there for their running back.
On the play of the freshman
"I don't think the freshman really hurt us. I thought Joe Burnett was his consistent self and he is only going to get better and better, I think he is a very fine football player. I think Kevin Smith had over 100 yards today. I think the other freshman have their good points but are not as consistent as those other two. Jason Vennson is a little more consistent, but I think the others are going to have to be more consistent in order for us to get to the level we want to be at.
On possible bowl destinations
"I didn't hear anything about it and I didn't really want to know. I was concerned about this game because that is all you have control over. Now we will see what is happening with the bowl. I think that (a bowl game) is a heck of a reward for a team that came from where they came from last year. I am happy for the team. I told them they lost to a team that played better than they did today. They did more good things than we did.
UCF Center Cedric Gagne-Marcoux
On losing such a big game
"Obviously it hurt when you know you have to play your best game, but any loss is going to hurt you. When we played South Florida and a lot of people said we could never come back from that one, but we came back and had a good season. We have another game, the bowl game, and we are just going to come out and play hard. Of course this hurts because we want to win every game. We have high expectations and know we can do it. We came out there today and didn't play our best football. I give credit to Tulsa. They came out here prepared and made good plays. They created turnovers, they don't create themselves.
UCF Defensive end Paul Carrington
On the third quarter
"They just did a very good of making plays against us. We were anticipating a run and they were going for the pass. They just executed. We didn't cause any turnovers like we are usually good at. In a championship game you have to cause turnovers to have a chance to win.