Quotes Following Football's 49-47 C-USA Loss To Rice



Nov. 3, 2012

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Rice 49, Tulane 47
Tulane Game 9
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, La.


HEAD COACH Curtis Johnson

Opening Statement
"You just can't overcome five turnovers. It is so hard with an inexperienced team. Even though Ryan Griffin played great again, we just have to get off to a better start and convert on third downs. But the big difference was our turnovers. And their quarterback was outstanding on the other side."

On the missed 2-point conversion
"We ran it inside out. Ryan had a read of Sydie (London), to (Evan) Tatford, to (Ryan) Grant, to (Josh) Rounds. Griffin played it, and we had hit Rounds a couple times in practice. They covered Rounds and Grant was out just a little too wide because he was trying to skirt the back of the endzone."

On rallying back from the early deficit
"Our guys are young but they are classy guys. They don't ever quit and that is one of the things that we have instilled in them. That's just something they don't do. Even early in the season when we were down big we just never quit. They have found the intestinal fortitude to fight back and take one thing at a time. We acknowledged the plays that we had screwed up in the first half and we just moved on."

On the lack of a run game
"The problem with our run game today was that we made ourselves one dimensional. With the turnovers and being down so big in the first half, we just couldn't establish anything because we had to throw it."

On Cairo Santos' 57-yard field goal
"I think what that kick really did was give us the momentum. Even though we were down 28-10, I felt like we were going to score some points. We came back out and got the pick-6. But Cairo has been one of our early-season MVP's. He is just something else. Every time he tells me he can kick it farther and farther I just let him do it because he just amazes me every week."

On the feeling after the failed comeback
"We just expend so much energy coming back. We come back and come back and then they go and go. The whole back and forth is very draining, and even more draining because we didn't get the win. But if we had won it would be totally different and we would be enthusiastic like they were. It was a good opponent and a good team, but we just have to continue to improve."

On seizing the moment in light of the stadium unveiling and homecoming festivities
"I thought we would get it, and I didn't anticipate five turnovers but the guys played hard. Winning is something that you have to create on the football field. We continued to come back and I am very proud of them, but with an asterisk. They fought back but we can't get that far down. We played well in most instances but it was just too hard to overcome."

On the homecoming atmosphere
"We could feel the bigger crowd and I am very glad everyone came home to support these guys. We practice hard, and even though we make some mistakes we still deserve a nice crowd."

On drawing a parallel between Drew Brees and Ryan Griffin
"We definitely try to emulate Brees because that is what I know. Griffin is cool under pressure, we protected him pretty well, and the receivers are playing outstanding. He is just playing very well."

On Griffin's second half
"We talked to him at the half and just outlined some plays that we thought we had to get into in the second half. We made some great adjustments and all the sudden in the third quarter he got into his rhythm a bit and played very well."

On not being bowl ineligible
"I've always thought that as a team, anytime you are vying for a playoff spot you just have to play one game at a time. At the end of the season you look up and see where you are so we never even talk about bowls. We talk about this play, this week, this practice, this down. That is the only way you can look at it because one week you can be way up and the next week be way down. We just concentrate on one thing at a time."

On the defense playing so much
"We knew the defense was banged up so one of our goals for the game was to not turn the ball over. We wanted to keep those guys on a short field, and we did well for the most part when we were on a short field."

On the defensive performance
"Rice played well. We still have young guys who are learning. We just have to protect the ball. I'm not going to throw anyone under the bus but when you play with some young guys bad things happen and that was just one of those things. But they came back and played well."

On Grant's performance despite limited practice
"We are down a few receivers right now and he didn't practice much. But he is the type of guy that just wants to play and wants to do everything. He played well this week even on limited practice, maybe we should practice him less to get him more rest since he did well on limited practice."

On Ryan Travis' interception
"That was a big momentum changer, and once we got that one we got going and had a swagger. All the sudden Griffin got back in it. That was a huge play in this game. We expect it from Ryan because he has been flirting with it all year long."

On Rice's long third down conversion on their final score
"It wasn't a coverage mix-up. The receiver just beat the defender. We were in the right coverage and we had enough pressure on it we just got beat."

On Xavier Rush's touchdown
"His 62-yard touchdown was big. That's something we want to do is get the ball to our play-makers. We got it to him and he just took it the rest of the way."


On comeback in second half
"We just thought about their points early on turnovers and it came back to haunt us. Talk about starting fast. We know we're a good enough team that if we get ahead fast we can just wear them down. And we didn't do that. Hats off to all of the guys that fought out there and played with heart and pride and fought back to get the lead. Unfortunately we couldn't finish it."

On fourth quarter comeback
"It's just a matter of you have to score more points than they do. No matter what's happened up till the last drive, you have to go down and get it down. You have to block everything out and just focus on getting into the endzone or getting in range for the field goal when it matters. You just have to feel out everything else. Focus on that drive because that's all that matters."

On breaking last week's passing record
"The record doesn't mean anything. We're going to have to break it again and get a win. It hurts looking at it every time with a loss next to it. It doesn't matter as long as we win."


On record breaking 57 yard field goal
"I thought I hit it pretty solid. I thought it was a little lower than a 54 that I had earlier in the season. I thought the 54 was a better hit, but 57; it was good to know I had a little room on that."

On mindset during 50+ yard field goal
"That one CJ came to me and asked me if I could make it. I said, `Coach, I have the distance.' He said, `But can you make it?' I said yeah. So he let me go out there, and I knew it needed to be a good kick. I told the holder and the snapper that we need a good one. Everything was perfect' they do a great job. I'm going to miss them next year. It was just a smooth kick."

On 42 yard field goal
"I hit it a little funny, and even that one at halftime. I think I was too hyped up. I just had to relax, and I hit that one a little funny. But I got lucky and it went through."

On importance of kicking for 15 touchbacks in last two weeks
"It's been huge. Last two seasons, we struggled in kickoff coverage. With the move to 35, I could put more into it. If I averaged 5 deep in the endzone, it could help our team. That's something that I'm probably more happy about; that I can get more touchbacks every game than my field goals."

On pressure of being perfect for field goals
"Billy Johnson, the snapper, really tries to emphasize, `Don't think about it.' I can't help not to think about it. I'm so excited that I don't want to miss all season. My confidence is just going up and up each week. I go into every kick thinking I won't miss."

On onside kick
"It was a great bounce. I practiced a little bit on the sideline, and we practice every week. Mainly we just kick the ball one way and we just rely on the bounce. The bounce was perfect, I was just upset we didn't get it."

On if he's overused
"I did feel that my leg was getting tired this game, probably adding to last game also. I try to not kick as much on the sideline in the net. Prior to every field goal, I try to get a couple of reps. Last year I was kicking too much, even when my groin as hurt. The main thing is just in practice after a long amount of kicks that I have in a game. Next week, I will probably take it easy in practice and not kick as much. I'm learning more to take care of my leg every week, and that's the difference now."

On moment after record breaking field goal
"It's the whole season and the fact that I've been perfect. They just keep giving me love every week and after every kick. Marfisi, the tight end, we always do that thing where he picks me up. I'm always pumped up about that."

On semifinalist for Lou Groza Award being announced soon
"It's a huge honor. Going into the season, I didn't even think that I had a chance seeing as we don't get as many reps as the other schools. I think 14 for 14 should be good. I've been thinking about it, I want it really bad. It's a huge honor for me even if I don't make the finals. It's a huge honor just to be named as a semi-finalist."


On two big catches for touchdowns
"It's more of (Ryan) Griffin throwing really good balls and giving me a shot. I think even though I had one day of practice this week from being sick, that came from the chemistry we have form the offseason. He knew how to throw it to me. He really gets all the credit for those."

On not quitting after being down 28-7 and taking lead in fourth quarter
"I think that's one thing that's been a huge improvement with the squad and this new mentality that we have. I mean that's huge; it's a big sign of maturity, especially for how young of a team we are. It says a lot. You enjoy playing on teams like that that'll never give up. It speaks so much not just on the field but really off the field more so. It's fun to be around."

On Griffin's fourth quarter and record breaking performance
"If someone doesn't get him in the next level, I don't know what's wrong with that because he's quite the player. As much as he's been through, he deserves to be breaking records. He is that good, those numbers aren't a fluke. He's throwing great balls and he's just that good. He keeps bouncing back no matter what happens."


On the 73 yard touchdown as key to comeback
"We tried to come out with some fire after halftime. Coach preached that we need to get some stops; as soon as we get back out there we need to get some stops. And we got one there. My guy kind of ran the route on the zone there. The receiver kind of missed the ball. I caught it off a tip pass and took it in for the [pick] six. Yes, that was a key factor to us coming back."

On defensive improvement, interceptions in particular
"Coach preached that if you see it, go get it; don't be afraid to make plays. That's what he tells us all the time. We see the play, we see the opportunity; we take it."

On size of team and fearless play
"We back down for nobody. We play a rugged first game; that was probably the biggest team we've faced overall. But these guys were the probably the biggest team we've faced in the conference. We came out and tried to make plays, but they ended up making more plays than we made toward the end of the game."

On team's no quit mentality
"Coach CJ preaches that: never quit, never quit, never quit. That's something that this team is good at."



Opening Statement
"We have to learn as a football team how to deal with success. We haven't been in that kind of situation. We were up, and we have to learn to respond better we're leading by that many points. That's where the great football teams really go to work, when they have someone down. We lost our focus, but I'm proud of this team for winning. We had a lot of penalties today that we normally don't have. I look forward to looking at our video and try to determine where some of those were coming from. Just pleased really to be walking out of here with a win. Two years ago, we came here and at the end of the game had a chance to win, but the pass was two inches too high. I'm glad to get a conference road win. Let me say, their quarterback is really a great player."

On Tulane's last drive and the two point conversion attempt
"It's one of those as a coach, you hate that it even got to that. It took everything we had at the end to win this one, and Taylor Cook to get that ball."

On Tulane's comeback
"There were missed tackles. An interception returned for a touchdown, we had a chance to get points there. There was another chance when we were at the five yard line. We'll take this win, but we will learn from it. I'm excited that we're going into an open week. Hopefully we can get better, get some guys back, and try to improve this football team."

On still having the season alive
"We're still going. We're a pretty good football team. When you look at Taylor McHargue and how he got hurt at the end of the Marshall game, and now you see how we are when he's healthy. We fortunately have some good depth this year. You don't win with just a healthy club and I get that. We have some guys running second team who are really athletic."

On the fourth quarter and Luke Turner's performance
"Here you have a true freshman coming into a game, that's exciting."

On the number of points in the game and the team's performance
"We had a lot of turnovers. I know our special teams had some big time turnovers, and also we were given some short fields and we didn't get points on all of those. That's part of the learning progression that we have to have."


Opening statement
"There's a lot to learn from. We felt that it shouldn't have been as close as it was, but it was nice to see us persevere after blowing that lead; and after they took the lead coming back and finishing the game. Winning on the road is tough. They're a good team. Ryan Griffin is a good player; having him back has been huge for them. It's always great to win on the road, but we realize that to win these next two and get to a bowl, we are going to need to cut down on a lot of these mistakes offensively."

On the need to improve
"Penalties and turnovers are obviously a problem every week. We had too many turnovers. Discipline, the nine penalties for 100 yards, that's not going to cut it so we'll focus on those two things. I heard Coach Bill talking about it, having the bye week finally will help to get a lot of guys healthy, and that's going to help a lot. You're never going to make it through a season without injuries, but it's going to be nice to get a few guys back to full strength and some back who haven't played in a few weeks. We're looking forward to that."

On the rushing game
"Tulane did a better job than we thought they would control the run game, but we stuck to it. Guys stepped up; it was good to see a couple of those third down conversions that we made. It's something we pride ourselves on that, and our offensive line prides themselves on that. It feels good for us."

On the defense and the Tulane's failed two point conversion
"There was a sense of relief honestly because you feel pretty confident that you're going to get this onside kick and the game will be over. For me personally, there wasn't a lot of surprise after seeing it was Philip (Gaines) You see the ball go to his side of the field and there aren't too many times when he's in a one-on-one matchup and the other guy comes up with the ball. I think] the receiver actually had the ball, and Philip reached in and stripped it out. It's something that we expect from him. We hold him to the highest standard, and he meets that every week."

On the relief of winning
"It would've been a long plane ride back if we had lost this one. Last time we were here it was a shootout, and it didn't go our way. This year, it could have gone better, but ultimately it was a conference win on the road and we'll take it."


On losing the lead
"Going into half, the defense is pretty mad after they got the field goal. We knew we had to come out, and Cody Bauer gets a tip pick. In the game, your fear is present, but sitting back in retrospect I'm proud of how our team responded. In past years, we might not have won that game. I think that shows that we're learning how to win games. Just play the next play, play the next play, that's what it came down to."

On having every game being a must win to make a bowl
"Playoffs. Going into the bye week, knowing that our season would have been over that would have been devastating. We're always going to play; these are the playoffs for us. Going into the bye week, it'll be nice guys healing from bumps and bruises and sewing up some fundamentals. We have to come out ready for SMU."

On Tulane's Ryan Griffin
"That guys is good, a lot of credit goes to him. He made plays, but at the end of the day it's about finishing the game with one or two points ahead of the other team. That's all you can do as a defense."