Quotes Following Tulane's 24-21 Homecoming Win Over North Texas



Oct. 5, 2013

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Tulane 24, North Texas 21
Tulane Game 6
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, La.


Head Coach Curtis Johnson

Opening Statement
"I thought our defense played outstanding. The first half was okay. We know this team is very good and very explosive. You can see that by going back and watching the Georgia game. We talked about that all week long. This team (North Texas) is explosive, That No. 3 (Brelan Chancellor) is as a good as anyone in the country, their quarterback (Derek Thompson) is outstanding; for our defense to come out and play like that in the first half was great. Throughout the game, I thought the defense had some great stops, which was good. We knew they were great on special teams. This is the best special teams we've played all year, and I thought that we handled them well. We got into a rhythm on special teams: got that block, played the scoop-and-score just like we talked about, Boutte fielded the ball well all game long, and we covered the kicks well. Offensively, we struggled somewhat, but this was a good defense. Georgia struggled. Everybody they played struggled against them. So, all of a sudden, at the end of the game we've got the big drive. Our backs played outstanding. We picked up the blocks and the blitz, and I thought it was a good day."

On the final drive
"Initially, the thing was to get one first down, and then another, and then another. Orleans Darkwa just ran over a couple of guys the first time he got the ball, and that gave us the momentum on the sideline, which gave us a lift. Nick made a play, Grant made a couple of plays on the drive, and the next thing you know we were going in kick the field goal. The trick of the final drive is to: 1. Make them use their timeouts, which they did. 2. Move the ball to get into field goal range, which we did. 3. Do most of it on the ground, which we accomplished. We accomplished those three things, and we ran the clock down to five seconds, which I know that, if we make the kick, that will run out the clock."

On Cairo's kick being great moment for the program
"Cairo's fantastic. We all know his struggles - they've been chronicled - and I don't know how this kid can make any field goals with what he's going through right now. I see him in the halls and he's teary-eyed all the time. I just hope that he can get over some of this and get back to being his old self, but it was just fantastic. I told him at halftime that he was going to win this game for us so get up, and he did."

On offensive struggles and what needs to change
"I think there just needs to be some direct clarity instruction on exactly what we are doing, because we practice these situations every week. Here's the runs, here's the plays, this is what we are doing, we're going to move the ball, we're going to make them use their timeouts, and when it begins to go like it should go, I think the players become more and more confident."

On Nick Montana
"I thought his running was outstanding, he was a little off throwing the ball, but he put us in a great position to win the game, especially on that last drive. A quarterback to me is mainly judged on wins and losses, and what Nick does is that he's a winner. He tucks it under, he runs, he throws it when it needs to be thrown; he'll make the big plays and they'll get more consistent, both the offensive line and Nick, but this was a great defense. This defense played outstanding, they (North Texas) did the same thing to Georgia, my hats off to them."

On North Texas' defense hitting Montana hard
"We do the same thing to their quarterback, we try to put as much pressure on the quarterbacks as we can, and we've hit a couple and knocked a couple of them out this year, but that's the game nowadays. If you don't rattle these quarterbacks, they are just going to pick you apart and they are going to play well."

On tackling well all game
"I think the defense has done a fantastic job. We've done a ton of tackling drills in practice, especially since the second game of the season, and I think we've tackled well pretty much this whole season. I love the way we are bringing players in and out, we're alternating the right guys, we're bringing in the right players, and I think we are turning the corner now, beginning to get better and better all over."

On the blocked field goal
"I thought Barry Lamb broke them down pretty well. We knew that with special teams, we had to get a hold of Brelan Chancellor. We thought we could block a field goal, through that gap, so that worked out. Also, all week we were practicing that scoop and score drill, and that worked out well too. We thought we could get the punter on a block too, and we came close a few times, but they're a good special teams unit, they killed Georgia with special teams, along with some of the other programs."

On Lorenzo Doss and his two interceptions
"He can do that. As you know he's a sophomore, but he can be that big play guy. As a true freshman, he had five picks, and he may have ten this year, because he's a ball hawk. Sometimes he gambles, which makes me mad, but he's so good that he can gamble. I hope I can keep him for four years, because this kid has a bright future ahead of him."

On interceptions being expected
"That's one thing we talk about winning every week, we talk about winning the turnover ratio, and that's one of the things we've been winning every week. Our defense goes out with the mindset that we are going to take the ball away, and that sometimes leads to shoddy tackling since we are trying to strip the ball all the time. When the ball's in the ear, it's our ball, Batiste had a few that he went after that he almost got, and he'll get those next week."

On importance of winning this game with all the pressure from this week
"I just want to thank everybody, especially God, because this is two weeks in a row that I just prayed so much about my wife, about Cairo, and all the stuff going on. Also, I was away somewhat from the team, because I was at the hospital and doing some other things, but our assistants were outstanding, and I just wanted to get this win for those assistants, and I really wanted to get this win for these kids, just to get over the hump."

Senior PK Cairo Santos

On the game-winning field goal
"I think it was a 27 yard field goal, but either way, every kick I go to I am feeling comfortable and confident, I'm just thankful to the coaches for being patient with me. I didn't have a great night kicking off, and the operation didn't go smoothly on the 56 yarder, so I'm just very thankful for the staff and for the defense, who played extremely well today, along with our offense who put us in that situation. It came down to that kick, but it was everybody's effort."

On relief or celebration after kick
"It was a celebration. I'm very relieved that I finally got a game winner, I've always wanted to get one of those in college, so I got that out of the way, but it was definitely more celebration."

On dedication to his dad
"I did that right after I made the kick, I pointed to the sky and said it was for him, because it was."

On being a part of such a strong and tight team
"We have our goal, and at all time we are sticking to that goal, which is making a bowl game and winning that bowl game. Like Coach Johnson said, it's great to get this win, but it's not our goal. The team understands that, which I feel is how this team is different from last year and all the years that I've been here; it's a whole mindset. We've had this mindset from the beginning, it's not like we started winning a few games and this became our goal, we knew that from the beginning our team is capable of reaching a bowl game, it's in our minds every single day."

On finally winning a homecoming game
"It's definitely extra special, I was eating the pregame meal with the kickers and a couple of lineman, and I was just realizing that this is my last homecoming game ever. If I end up playing in the next level, they don't have homecoming, so I wanted to just enjoy this moment and celebrate with my teammates. It was funny that it came down to me winning it for my teammates, so I consider this a very special moment in my life."

Junior QB Nick Montana

On the last drive after struggling most of the game
"We just needed to step up. The defense and special teams kept us in the game they played great. We had a couple of chances early to put the game away early on offense and we didn't so that was on us as an offense. I was really proud of everyone responding on the last drive when we needed to. We got it done"

On saying anything before the last drive
"We knew what we had to do. We practice situations like that all the time in practice. Usually they are harder than that. CJ usually makes them as hard as he can. It makes it a lot easier on us when you get into the situation cause everyone is calm and we move the ball well."

On significance this game is for the program
"It was a huge win. We are 4-2 right now and 2-0 in conference. This is our first homecoming win in a while so we are off to a good start. We still have a lot of things that we need to get better at and getting ready for next we cause we have a tough one next week."

Senior DB Derrick Strozier

On the blocked field goal
"All game it seemed like their game plan was to keep on steeping out on me. I let (Darion Monroe) know that they are stepping out on me because they think I'm trying to come get it. They stepped out on me, he hit the crease, he blocked and I was right there to pick it up."

On what he were thinking about while running with the ball after the block
"I was just trying to get to the end zone man. I was tired; we just came off of a long drive. I was just trying to get there and get one for the team."

On the relief of putting the team up in the third quarter
"We just wanted to make something happen on defense. We knew this was a game where we were going to have to play hard, tough and physical. It just happened that we scored some points tonight. We stepped up."

On being 2-0 in C-USA
"It feels good. It feels great. We are looking forward to the next conference game trying to get another win."

Sophomore CB Lorenzo Doss

On his impact on the game
"Coaches were telling us that our goal was to get 5 turn overs. We were in meetings yesterday and coach told us that first we have to get 4. I had it on my mind and knew that I just had to go out there and create turnovers.

On forcing a three-and-out on the first drive and coming out strong
"We knew if we start fast we are a dominant team and nobody can handle us. We went out there, got a 3 and out early and just went out there and made plays.

On it being a new team and a new direction
"Coach stresses it a lot on special teams. Our special teams meetings are long cause he knows that we can change games on special teams. He told the defense in particular to go out there and block a field goal and that's what we did. We blocked it. I have great defensive linemen like Chris Davenport that are reading screens and tipping it to me."

On cramping before the pick-six
"I had to tell them to give me a little bit of water so I can go back out there."

On how big this win is
"It is just another game. Just like Coach CJ says, it's a 24-hour rule. Tomorrow at two we just gotta forget about it and move on to the next one."


Head Coach Dan McCarney

On the lack of production in the first half
"We didn't execute on third downs in the first half, but I want to give credit to Tulane. They really did some good things. We didn't handle the blitzes as well as we could have in the first half. We didn't come out and start revamping our offense in the second half. We simply executed and came back and played much better in the second half. My hat is off to Tulane and the job they did to finish the game. They had two huge, game changing plays - a block field goal and an inception for a touchdown. But, you still see the character of this team to come back and tie it up at 7-7, 21-21, when we are down by 14 points in the second half. There is a lot of fight and character in this team, but not enough in the end."

On the number of penalties in the game
"The pre-snap issues are inexcusable. You just can't have the false starts. We have to do a better job coaching it. Defensively, I thought a couple of the calls were aggressive and close to being a personal fouls. But, our guys played with aggression. They played with heart. They played with toughness."

On the loss of Cairo Santos father
"I understand that the kicker's father was killed in a plane accident. My heart and all of our deepest sympathy goes out to that young man. There is a lot more that goes into this than just football when something like that happens. All of us in the Mean Green football family send out our deepest sympathy to him and his family."

On the blocked field goal for a touchdown
"It was a protection issue, all the way. We have to do a better job protecting. They did a great job and we didn't. We work on it all of the time and take great pride in it. It rarely ever happens to us in practice or games, but it did today. They did it and we didn't. The technique was real poor by one of our guys and they got the big play."

On the inception for a touchdown
"I just saw a guy that didn't rush. And that was a great time not to rush with the play that we had called. Whether he read it or just didn't rush, he didn't get any push in the pocket and made a great play."

On the offense in the second half
"There are a lot of positive things in the second half. To come back and tie it up, when we were down by 14 points going into the fourth quarter, you again see the resolve of this team and how bad they wanted to win. They put so much into trying to come back. I saw a lot of good things by D.T. (Derek Thompson) and our receivers. We gave up ten points today on defense. Many times that will get you a victory. But, it didn't today because of many of those big plays I've already talked about. It is one game. But, it is one that we wanted badly. We will digest it and hurt for 24 hours, and then we will put it behind us and get ready for a home game against Middle Tennessee State."

QB Derek Thompson

On the last touchdown
"They`d been sitting there, and we tried to throw the out ball the whole game. Darnel was the one who made the call. He calls it the double move, the out and up. He made a great move. I knew we had a free play because they were offsides. I had to stand in their tough. They were coming pretty hard so we had to make that throw. He made a great play, and it tied up the ball game."

On the Game
"When you play like we did in the first half, we were lucky to even be in the game. We played just about as bad as we could in the first half. Things didn't go our way. When we competed in the second half, we gave ourselves an opportunity to be there at the end. Good job by them; they had a great scheme against us."

On the interception returned for a touchdown
"It was a screen. We had run it earlier. Number 94 is a big tall guy; he got his hands up and just tipped it up in the air. Six just came in and made a play. It happens. That's life, that's football. It's frustrating. It's upsetting. We worked so hard. We had two weeks to prepare for this team. No excuses, obviously. It's frustrating, but we'll go back to work this week. We seem to play well at home, and we'll try to do that."

On the offense's overall play
"It's hard when we can't run the ball very well. They're stacking the box, and sometimes it feels like we're just beating our heads against the wall. I don't know what we have to do to get it solved, but we got to start being more balanced on offense. We've got to make it a mindset, and get it back to where we can run the football."

LB Derek Akunne

Opening Statement
"We didn't do what we needed to do to get our offense back on the field and win the game for us. They made plays on the last drive, and we didn't make the plays we needed to make. That's how the game was won. We felt that we had things going our way. We thought we would go back out, and get our offense back on the field. When it was a close game, losing sucks all the time, but losing a close game like that really hurts."

On the success early
"We stopped them on their run, run and pass. We were getting off the field quickly too, and that's what we were doing at the beginning of the game."