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October 14, 2013UCF coach George O'Leary, wide receiver Josh Reese and safety Sean Maag appeared at Monday's press conference to preview Friday's game at No. 8 Louisville which will be nationally televised by ESPN with an 8 p.m. kickoff.
Though it's still early in the conference season, the winner of this game will have the inside track to capturing the American championship and the automatic berth to a BCS bowl.
Louisville is 6-0 and 2-0 within the league following last Thursday's 24-10 home win against Rutgers. UCF comes into the game with a 4-1 record and 1-0 league mark after beating Memphis 24-17 on Oct. 5.
UCF coach George O'Leary
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WR Josh Reese & DB Sean Maag
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Transcript from Coach O'Leary's Press Conference
"To go over last week, we had the open date and gave them some time off to catch up on their academics and some of their injuries. Then pretty much got back to practice on Thursday and Friday. Sunday and obviously today. Back at full strength as far as all we have available on the field."
On whether the Memphis game opened the players' eyes to taking it one game at a time, noting UCF could have lost:
"Could've? Should've lost. When you score two touchdowns in nine seconds? I've been around football a long time and that doesn't happen very often. We were very fortunate. I told Memphis after the game that I felt bad for their kids. Obviously good for our kids, but we were very fortunate to win that game. I preached all week about what we should be doing. I don't think it's as much the kids. I think we were out of sync offensively as far as some of the things we were trying to get done. I think defensively we came up with four turnovers, which I think was the difference in that game.
"But again, I think every week is a new adventure. That's how I look at it. I think kids today, there's so much media exposure, Twitter and Facebook. You've got to stay on top of them, what they're reading and what people are trying to tell them, outsiders. You've got to continually check on them, especially when you don't have a lot of seniors that have been through it before. We only have seven seniors. That's where it starts showing up with some of the young kids."
On the positives from Memphis with UCF making big plays to come back:
"Yeah. You congratulate them. You probably need one game a year like that. It doesn't very often. We just didn't play well offensively at all. I thought we basically had opportunities to get some things done and we just seemed to be out of sync a lot. And defensively, we had opportunities to make some plays and you've got to come up with the plays. That's what I see right now. We're having some opportunities to make plays, defensively and offensively, you've got to make the play when you have the opportunity. We're making some, but we're coming up short on some too."
On the final 2:05 at Memphis, whether that will be a drawing point in the future to show kids how offense, defense and special teams can have a big factor:
"That will probably be on coffin. 2:05 and these three things happen. No. I don't know. The game is over. We're very fortunate to take advantage. I tell you, that was a great, great hit by William Stanback. He never broke stride. Then I tell you, the other kid, 21, Drico Johnson, had the knowledge to pick it up instead of falling on it and running it to the endzone. We cover that stuff all the time in practice. I'm happy that he took practice to the game. So it was a great situation there. Again, we go in on the touchdown, and the ball is rolling around and Chris Martin happened to be in the right area. Sometimes the luck and speed go hand in hand, I guess, especially in those two players."
Whether Will Stanback could have a future on defense, perhaps at linebacker or safety:
"I would never do that right now. I think he is a really good running back. I wish we would get more out of our offensive players on special teams like we get out of him. He really comes out and does a great job. Reese does a good job for us. A bunch of those kind of kids are helping us out right now. Especially when you're young, you struggle to find special teams guys. That's where you have to look ahead and see some of the freshmen helping us out right now."
On what make Louisville Teddy Bridgewater such a hot NFL prospect:
"I tell you what, what he does is he has great poise which is the No. 1 thing for the NFL. He has good arm strength. Great awareness of coverage. He's a smart guy. You can tell. He knows where he's going with the ball before the snap. I think he's worked at the game. It's obvious when you watch him. People send in blitzes from every which way at him and he gets rid of the ball. He may take a hit, but he's getting rid of the ball for a completion. (Defenses may say) 'We got to him,' but you didn't get to him if it's a completion. That's what I talk about pressure. Pressure to me means when it's incomplete otherwise I don't call it a pressure. If it was pressure you wouldn't be able to complete the ball.
"He has those things you look for at the next level. Again, it's so difficult to play at that level up there as a true guy coming in. Everybody is so fast. The combination of the coverages you see, the tightness of the coverage. You can't throw it up. There's a small window with everything you throw in the pros. The guys who have the arm strength and some type of awareness, aware of where they're going with it. If you look at the NFL, those are the guys who are doing well. They have an idea and they put it in that small window for completions. That's what separates them from the other guys."
Louisville is converting 64 percent of third downs, on what has led to that:
"There's a lot like ourselves. They have very good receivers that catch everything you throw to them whether it's high, low, whatever, they catch it all. Plus, he puts it where they can catch it. Keeps it away from the defense. That's one thing that he does a good job he puts the ball where it needs to be. He doesn't just a throw a ball. He throws it where it needs to be so the receiver or the back can catch it. That's what he does well. I think he's very aware of down and distance. I don't think he tries to take a 40-yard play unless somebody is running by him. He's looking to move the chains. He understands he's throwing for the chains, a lot."
On Louisville's defense, who sacked Rutgers eight times and forced four interceptions:
"I think quarterback is holding on to the ball. Eventually somebody is going to get to you. When you're a quarterback, there's a clock going off in your head. After that clock hits, ding, ding, ding. You better get rid of the ball because all the good ones know something is coming. They get rid of the ball. They don't hold on to it. I think both of these guys, including Bortles, have the ability to make somebody miss which allows them more time to gather and they're both pretty good in space. Both teams are good scramble people as far as receivers are concerned. They just buy time for the good receivers to break into open areas. I think that's what's really unique about Teddy is he may get stuck in the pocket, but he'll roll out and buy time and then his vision is where it needs to be down field."
Whether he doesn't expect as much pressure vs. UCF:
"They're basically man-zone as far as their pressure. I think you've got to have some pre-reads about pressure. Basically, get in situations where... everybody has tendencies in football. Whether they're a boundary-pressure team, a field-pressure team, an up-the-middle pressure team. You've got to be aware of it. With every tendency, there's somebody showing it. You've got to be sharp. Both quarterbacks are fairly sharp as far as throwing it where you're not. That's what makes them a little different than everybody else."
On Louisville's run game:
"If you're just playing a team that throws it all the time, you could just be out there in dime and put your DBs out there. 32 (Senorise Perry) is a very good running back. 10, Dominique Brown is a good running back. They've got people up front that can carry the mail. You've got to have people on them. That's what makes them difficult. When you get a team that's one-sided, just runs or throws it, you can pretty much gang up on them. It's when they can do both fairly well is when you're a good offense. And they're a good offense."
Whether he sees this as a possible conference championship game:
"We've got a lot of games to play. I don't know. You play one game at a time. It's a great opportunity for UCF. And Louisville. Everybody is complaining about Louisville, but Louisville is winning the games they're supposed to win. They've got a schedule and they're doing what they need to be doing each week. Again, they could beat a lot of teams in this country. I think like every other conference, I think we overrate a lot of conferences in this country. There's two or three, maybe four at best, in each conference that deserve the adoration they're getting. The rest are just teams."
Whether he puts Blake Bortles at the same level as Teddy Bridgewater:
"No. He's a year behind him as far as quarterback. I think Teddy has basically been a lot more productive. I'm saying as far as similar type traits. I think Teddy probably has the quicker trigger in getting rid of the ball while Blake is looking for that extra guy all the time instead of just taking what's there. And he's getting better at that. I think Teddy gets rid of the ball. You may pressure him and get a hit on him, but the ball is gone already. Or else he's good enough to step up and gain some ground and gain some time with his receivers making you miss."
If quarterbacks, when facing another good quarterback, whether they get more pumped up:
"I would think they do. Like any sport, you get pumped up. Like two centers in basketball. I think it's the same thing. Louisville, when you look at it, it's like any sport. Louisville is very strong up the middle. On defense, they're strong up in the middle with the safety back there, Pryor. And on offense, they're strong up the middle, with him, the RB. That's where you start. If you're strong up the middle you have a chance. You really do. I think that's what, in any sport, what I see with this team. They can run it and they can throw it. They can throw it very productively and they have some guys that can go get it."
Having played at Ohio State and Penn State, whether that makes this team more ready to go into a hostile environment:
"That's not a concern of mine. My concern is matchups and how we match it. I think you've got to tackle in space very well in this game. I think that's probably the key to the game. Tackling in space and limiting the hidden yardage. They're going to make completions. How much yards after the catch are they getting? You've got to limit that, just so you keep field control. But no. I think it's a loud place, like every stadium for a big game. We handled the loud games pretty well, but I'll have noise going at Tuesday and Wednesday practice. Just a little more concentration has to take place in that offensive huddle.
"It's like everything else. I think experience. Nothing beats experience in any sport because I think they've been through it before and if you've been through it before hopefully something registers as far as what it takes to win."
On the growth of the UCF secondary:
"I think the secondary is playing better than I thought they would. I thought we were young back there and we are, but I think they're playing better than I expected them to play. We're still giving up some routes that I think we've got to put pressure on as far as transition to the ball. Where we have to play very, very well is the front seven. I think that's the key and limiting the plays that we need to limit and then rally to the ones we've got to run to."
On freshman defensive end Blake Keller, who left the team last week:
"Unbelievable. He goes home for I guess Monday and I guess he had some issues at home. Personal issues. He was gone Monday and Tuesday, then he comes in on Wednesday with his parents. I'm looking to find out what happened, what went on. I knew what happened, but I'm not at privy to say. He sits down and goes, 'Coach, I'm quitting.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'I don't love football anymore.'
"The kids that are quitting are usually N.G.E., when they give the excuse they don't love football anymore, not good enough. Others come in and say there's other reasons. My own personal opinion is there's another reason going on. He needs to resolve those issues. He really does.
"I was surprised. I had no idea anything was going on. None of the coaches did either. But I think a lot of it stems from some other issues that happened back there."
On what this means for defensive line depth going forward:
"Next guy moves up. We're feeding them, boarding them and everything else. They're on scholarship. We've got to make use of them."
On the Michigan-Penn State game:
"I sent Billy a little text, 'Congratulations. Great win.' I said I would have been annoyed with you if you didn't go for it on fourth. I said you weren't that courageous it was about the size of that he had to get. But it was a good win. Good game. I enjoyed the game. I just like watching checkers as far as what people are doing and just how sidelines are and all that type thing. Time management. I always watch that for time management. Some guys did it right, some guys don't get it yet. At the end of the game, you're not fighting them, you're fighting the clock. You've got to save those timeouts. That's what's critical, then know when to clock the ball."