After a scarier than it should have been 34-28 victory over Tulane on Saturday, head coach Charlie Strong and players addressed the media on Tuesday to discuss the win and their upcoming showdown with the Houston Cougars.
Head coach Charlie Strong wraps up Tulane:
Head coach Charlie Strong here:— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
“Really pleased about the win. I told the guys we need to finish games”
Strong: We haven’t played a complete game yet.— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
“It's always like, either the offense takes off, the defense takes off, the kicking game. And that's what I said, once we get that one game, then watch out,” Strong said.
The Bulls are 7-0 and ranked in the top 20 of both polls. At some point, you are who you are. This team may be good, but not great, and I think that’s what’s so frustrating with this team.
Strong on the defense chirping at the Tulane players with the big lead:
Strong said the defense lost their edge when they start chirping at Tulane players— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
"I said to our guys the other night, we were up, and on defense we kind of lost our edge when we start talking, chirping,” Strong said. “And I said, 'Just keep playing. You don't need to chirp, just keep playing.' And then it turned into a chirping game. So now you lose your edge, you lose your focus... But the great thing about it is, they owned up to it. It's like, 'Coach, you know what, you're exactly right. If we had just kept playing...'”
Missed assignments and poor tackling cropped up late in third quarter and through the fourth, which helped the Green Wave get back into the game. I said last week in this very post that once you start trash talking, you stop worrying about the task at hand, and that’s clearly what happened.
Strong says Quinton Flowers talking back to the opponents isn’t making him lose his edge.— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
Senior safety Devin Abraham on the fourth quarter miscues:
Abraham says there were a few too many missed tackles in the fourth quarter to help Tulane out.— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
Strong said in the American coaches’ teleconference on Monday that the defense was not tired and it did not factor into the poor tackling effort on Saturday. The Bulls defense was on the field for nearly the entire first half, and for more long stretches late in the game. It’s hard not to imagine fatigue didn’t play any role in all the easily-broken arm tackles the defense tried to use.
Senior WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling on Strong’s demeanor after the Tulane game:
MVS: Strong was calmer after Tulane game than Cincinnati game (33-3)— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
Strong was visibly upset after the Bulls crushed Cincinnati 33-3 two weeks ago, yet was calm and happy about this victory where the Bulls nearly blew a 27-point lead.
It could be Strong taking a different tack because last week’s way didn’t work. Or beating a team on the road is hard and it’s good enough just coming away with the win. Who knows?
A failed attempt to stir the pot by an unnamed media member:
Here is every question this person asked:
How close do you look at the other undefeated teams in the country?
“We don’t pay attention to those kinds of things. That doesn’t really matter to us. As long as we keep winning and keep doing what we need to do, that’s all that matters to us.”
About not being mentioned for the CFP:
“We have no control over that. We can only control what we can control. As long as we keep winning everything else will handle itself.”
What does it do for this program and this region that the fact that UCF is also undefeated?
“We don’t really worry about those guys. That game will come at the end of the season.”
What would you say to the CFP committee?
“That’s all cool and everything but we’re worried about the next game ahead of us. We’re just gonna keep playing, keep working. Whatever they decide is what they decide. We just keep it one game at a time.”
Do you feel a lack of respect for not being in the conversation?
“We gotta do what we gotta do. We just gotta keep playing ball games and that’s what we’re gonna do. That’s what we get preached to [us] every day in team meetings.”
Is it a positive that UCF is undefeated?
“They’re a good team down there but we’ll worry about that in November.”
Your guys aren't biting on the UCF/playoff questions?
"It is always about the next game. ... And I told 'em there was a target placed on your back at the very beginning. But you can't worry about that. It's always you've got to focus on the task at hand. And whichever game, whomever we're playing, it's all about that opponent and it's never about the big picture. What's gonna happen, everything will take care of itself. We've just got to make sure we handle our business and it doesn't slip."
There’s a pretty obvious connection between those questions and who asked them/told someone to ask them. You can figure it out for yourself. (I wasn’t the only one there who thought the line of questioning was in bad form.)
LB Kierston Johnson practiced Sunday a little bit but he’s still a ways away from playing— The Daily Stampede (@StampedeSBN) October 24, 2017
Johnson was injured a few weeks ago, and has slowly started working his way back into form. Our pal Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times reported that he’s hearing Johnson might play Saturday.