Quotes Following Football's 27-26 C-USA Win Over SMU



Oct. 13, 2012

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes

Tulane 27, SMU 26
Tulane Game 6
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, La.


HEAD COACH Curtis Johnson

Opening Statement
"This has been fantastic. All the adversity they went through and to come back and not to quit. That was one of the things that hasn't happened in the past under our new staff. To come back from a great team like this whose running back is a monster, whose coach is something else he's a special guy. This one was special for the first win."

On if he is relieved after getting his first win
"Maybe I'll get fifteen minutes of sleep now. It was just one thing after another. I couldn't sleep. It's a big relief. The main thing is I'm just happy for the guys in the locker room."

On game winning drive
"As you go through coaching, you just have to have the determination in our staff. They never quit. We chose to use the timeouts at the right times. We had a lot of confidence in Ryan [Griffin] to get us in the right plays. If we got in the right plays, I thought we could execute them. The coaches went over the plays prior to the drive and it was just one play after another. It didn't matter if it was pretty, but it was effective. It wasn't always pretty, but it was calmer. The whole deal was calmed down. We've got a chance to execute not like I would want us to, but we did execute pretty well. All of a sudden, we got the ball at the end of the game and that's what can happen with an experienced quarterback."

On Xavier Rush's performance
"He's capable of doing that. He started during training camp. He's done it in some games. It's just when we're so new at playing quarterback, he could never show his true talent. I think he's a good player and he is always up for the challenge."

On Rob Kelley's performance as a receiver out of the backfield
"He's been doing that all year. I think he made our first touchdown. He is capable of doing that also. He's a good running back, but he can also catch the ball from the backfield."



On Ryan Griffin's performance on the final drive
"I think he's the type of kid that never says die. He's going to fight until the end. He's a competitor and he's experienced at this. He's done this several times. I never saw panic in his face all day. He knew we would get the next one and the next one. He was very good on the sideline."

On SMU's advantage in time of possession
"That's what happens when you let go on offense. The time of possession was lopsided in favor of the thing that we wanted to do which was that we didn't want to give up big plays. As long we could keep the ball in front of us and not give up the home-run hit, we'll trade time of possession and the turnovers. Those are the two things we preached all week."

On postgame mood in locker room
"The guys were crying. The love for each other was just pouring out. We talked about Devon [Walker] and how much he means to us and what he's meant to the program. It was probably the best feeling I've ever had since the (the Saints won the) Super Bowl."

On Julius Warmsley's blocked field goal
"Special teams was huge. That was very important. Julius said all week that he can get it done. Their guy was the NCAA leader in blocked field goals so I think that was a little bit of competition going on within Julius and he got one for us and the other guy didn't get any."

On Tulane's defensive performance
"It was one of those break on the ball, make plays days. I thought the front played well. The back came to make some crucial stops in the secondary. Jordan Batiste, they couldn't complete a ball on him. [Lorenzo] Doss settled down. I thought they were a very opportunistic defense. They played very well."

On adjustments by SMU's defense
"They kept bringing in an extra guy every once in a while. We just had to get accustomed to it and figure out a way to stop some of the pressure because that's what teams start to do. Whenever we get some success, teams start to bring the pressure. I thought our kids responded."

On Tulane's running game
"We didn't run the ball as well as we wanted to, but we did make some runs - just enough to keep them a little bit off balanced. The problem with the running game in the second half was that we got penalty, penalty. Then when we got the big pick, we had the big fumble going in. I think that hurt us more than the inability of the running game."

On Tulane's first five games
"We have a 24 hour rule. Good or bad, it's over after 24 hours. I think those guys are pretty much doing it. The young guys come to work every day. They want to win. They want to succeed. They want to take the program to the next level. I give credit to the players on the team."

On slipping in fourth quarter
"The coaches all said get back to your techniques, get back to your basic stuff. That's kind of what we did. I don't think they really slipped. [SMU's] touchdown and field goal at the end, they really had to earn it. If you have a don't-quit attitude, I think you can build on that."

On Tulane's first drive
"The first drive of the game for a team like our team with all the adversity is very important. You just have to go down and get successful plays. I thought we did that early in the game. It was crucial that we went bam, bam, bam right down the field and scored some points."

On Marc Edward's performance and big play
"Marc's been playing pretty well. We just haven't had the opportunity to play and showcase our good players. We were pretty much just nursing our young quarterbacks. But Marc's been playing pretty good for us. He's been in and out a little bit, but we hadn't had the ball very much. We have some plays for each of those receivers and that was one of his plays. Griffin made a quick adjustment and I thought it was just a great pass and run."

On the offensive line's pass blocking
"It was a three-man front and (Griffin) did a good job picking the right, who was coming. It's just a feel that he has being an experienced quarterback. There's nothing like it."


On the emotions in the locker room after the game
"You know, it feels amazing. Getting our first win in that fashion, getting the monkey off our back and ending the losing streak is just great."

On coming off an injury and his mindset on the last drive
"We just had all big plays. That's all it was. We obviously didn't have a whole lot of first downs and didn't convert very well on third down, but a few big plays kept us in the game. I think that the defense was the reason that we won this game. They stopped them in the red zone so many times. We kept holding them to field goals and even blocked a field goal. They did a great job only allowing two touchdowns."

On his pass to Xavier Rush on Tulane's final drive
"That drive was eerily similar to the one we had against UTEP my redshirt-freshman year with the kind of the plays we ran and I hit Xavier right in the slot towards the end and having a running back score on a check-down just like André Anderson did. Xavier made a great play. He made that same play against Syracuse last year so I had confidence to throw it to him back-shoulder and it went well."

On the emotion displayed by Rob Kelley following the go-ahead score
"All receivers, running backs and tight ends were open. Rob loves emotion and I just love him. He is a great guy to have on the team. He brings so much to us besides just his skill, and he played great for us today."

On what a win like this could mean down the stretch
"We just need to get things rolling and build off this - build some confidence. We will just keep rolling, keep the ball moving and continue this all season long."


On the ebb and flow of today's game
"I was just happy to come out and match the defense's intensity. The defense played very well. We were just moving the ball. This is the first time that it's happened like that in a long time."

On how the defense's energy rubbed off on the offense
"Yeah, we definitely build off of the defense. Before the game, the defense was making noise. I felt like they were going to do a good job. When we get the ball, we can't go three and out so we just had to make something happen."

On if he thought anyone was going to tackle him on the game-winning catch
"If it was up to me, no. I like to call myself a big-time player. So if I make that play, my team will consider me a big-time player."

On Ryan Griffin's performance against SMU
"That is how we feel after every single practice. It wasn't even like there was pressure or anything. We knew that if we got a first down, the clock would stop. So everybody just remained calm and made some good plays and brought our confidence back up."

On getting the first win of the season
"It feels too good. I don't even know how to feel yet."


On pumping up his teammates before the game
"I think one thing we got away from was our pregame rituals. I am kind of the DJ. Everyone chips in and we have Dominique (Robertson) spitting some verses basically to pump everyone up and get prepared to kick some butt."

On the difference between this game and last week
"It was far from perfect today, but everybody is extremely excited. We made great strides tonight and got our first win. We are prepared to take on the next game."

On holding SMU to field goal attempts
"I think as a team our mindset is `next play.' So every single play we have to make sure that we go hard and that we understand the importance of that play because anything can happen. One play, I messed up and missed a tackle and that's why they got down into scoring position. Everybody still has a lot of things to work on. We just have to make sure that we focus on the play at hand and do our best."

On getting the first win of the season
"Actually ESPN put us up there to not win a game this season. A friend of mine told me that and I actually got pretty ticked off. But, we shut that up."



Opening statement
"It was unfortunate. I feel bad for the kids. When you have the issues in the first half that we had, it's hard to overcome - especially on the road. You have a chance if you're at home, but being on the road is different. I was proud they didn't quit. They came back. It showed good character, but when you have the opportunities we had in the first half, on the road, you have to capitalize on them."

On the possibility of going for a touchdown on the last possession
"We talked about it, but we felt our defense had played really well in the second half and Tulane hadn't really done anything. So we wanted them to have to score a touchdown. Their field goal kicker is 100 percent outside of 40 yards. That was the deciding factor right there. We decided forcing them to score a touchdown gave us the best chance."

On the touchdown reversal call in the first half
"I did not see the play. I thought it was a touchdown, but I didn't see it and they didn't show it on the replay."

On his team's red zone struggles
"I don't know what happened on the one drive. They called a penalty on a quarterback sneak; I don't know how that happens. We'll look at the film and hopefully get better."

On the improved performance in the second half
"It comes down to Zach (Line) running his tail off. We didn't make many plays in the passing game again, which is unfortunate, but you just keep trying to get better. We thought their front six guys that they play were pretty good. They played well and hard, but we were on the field a long time compared to them and Zach wore them out."

On the play of Darius Johnson and Jeremy Johnson
"They did very well. I was happy for them. At the same time, we had opportunities to make other plays that we didn't make. We got ourselves in a position to win the game and couldn't hold on."


On rallying and the last defense drive
"We fell short. There were some plays out there to be made. We were close to a bunch of sacks and it just didn't turn out our way unfortunately."

On the difference between the first and second halves
"It was a pretty early game, I don't know if the guys were awake yet. We had a couple of mistakes, some cover ones and the ball going deep on us. We fixed that at half time, and the second half was a lot better."

On the loss' effect on moving on to next week
"We just have to move on. This game is behind us. We have to focus on Houston. We knew this team (Tulane) could be dangerous especially since they had their starting quarterback back."