George O'Leary Press Conference Quotes - Oct. 10

Oct. 10, 2006

ORLANDO - UCF Head Coach George O'Leary held his weekly press conference on Tuesday at the Wayne Densch Sports Center where the third-year coach discussed his team's dramatic win at Marshall last Wednesday and the task that lies ahead with a 5-1 Pittsburgh team on Friday night at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

The tilt against the Panthers will be the final non-conference game for the Golden Knights this season. UCF and Pitt meet on the gridiron for the first time on Friday. The Panthers will be the second Big East foe UCF has met this season.

Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET at the Citrus Bowl and will be the third-consecutive game for UCF on the ESPN family of networks. This contest will air live on ESPN with Dave Pasch calling the play-by-play, Trevor Matich and Rod Gilmore analyzing and Tina Dixon serving as the sideline reporter.

Comments on the 23-22 victory at Marshall:
"I thought that offensively we did a good job of putting hats on people and running the ball. I am concerned about our red zone offense. We are getting down there, but we are like 12-for-20 on scores, but one was a no score and two were on fumbles, which then brings that to 15 for 20, if we correct those mistakes. We have missed a couple of chip shot field goals, but we are getting down inside the 20. We have to be more productive down there not with field goals, but touchdowns and that has been the emphasis since last week.

"Defensively, I am concerned with the lack of tackling. It appears that we are not running through people and we have way too many missed tackles. We are having teams in third and long situations, which should go as a positive for our defense, a lot of those plays we had them stopped, but we just could not bring them to the turf. Currently, we are practicing in full pads and we are working to improving our tackling each day in practice."

"I was happy to see the field goal at the end of the game, but was not happy with him [Michael Torres] taking off his helmet at midfield. Again, there is a learning curve there, act like you have done it before. We came out of the game with Kevin Smith banged up, but he has practiced the past two days, and he will play Friday night."

Comments on playing Pittsburgh Friday night:
"Pittsburgh, itself, is a good football team, very efficient. I think that it goes along with their quarterback [Tyler Palko], who is putting the ball where it needs to be in the passing game and making the right checks in the run game. They have a big offensive line and a running back that can make people miss, which obviously concerns me. Defensively, they play a lot of pressure type coverage and we are going to have to establish the passing game as well as the run game. It will be an interesting game from that standpoint. We have had a good week of practice and each week we have practiced better from a contact standpoint."

Comments on Steven Moffett's and Kyle Israel's play at Marshall?
"I told Kyle Israel that he was going to play during that week, no matter how well Steven was playing. Steven was playing well during the game, when I decided to put Kyle in the game. The best thing I saw was when Kyle scored that first touchdown, Steven was the first one to congratulate him on the sideline, which is a good sign. Playing two quarterbacks is not much of a problem because they are very similar. When Steven got to the sideline, he was able to better understand what was going on, and the way he came out in the second half was an indication of what he observed. Everybody talks about the kick, it was a chip shot. We made an adventure out of that. The big play was the fourth and four, where I told (Moffett) on the sideline, whatever you do, do not take a sack. He scrambled, probably a little earlier then he had to, but got out of there and kept looking up field and found Mike Merritt. If things are where they are supposed to be, he does not have a problem. He has good arm strength and vision, it is when those spies move all over the place, he has trouble picking them up. I was impressed with both quarterbacks, I thought they were both productive and efficient when they were out there."

Will both quarterbacks play on Friday?
"Yes, both will play, I am not sure when. We need to do that anyway, I have been saying this for a year. I told Kyle last week and this week that he was going to play and he went out and executed the game plan very well in practice. It is not whether Steven is playing well or not, I want to have a second quarterback with some game experience."

What do you think the problem is with tackling?
"The first problem that I see is that they are dropping their head, which is a big no-no. The other is not running through people. They must run through them. Tackling and blocking are the same thing, just a different way of doing it. I always watch to see if the back leg is coming through on blocks. I thought that we were just coming to people and not through them, which helped their running back break those arm tackles. We were also trying to tackle him low and that is something that does not need to be done in the open field. Instead, we have to chest tackle there."

How does the atmosphere help the team with playing on national television on a Friday night?
"I think that it is out third game in a row on national television. It is going to be difficult going back to playing on Saturdays again. We have not played on a Saturday in almost a month. I think that our fan base has done a tremendous job at our home games with the South Florida and Villanova games. It is starting to feel like a college atmosphere. Is it where it needs to be yet, no, but I believe that we have a lot of people working to make that better. Give credit to the fan base because it makes a difference with the kids and the opposing team."

Did the win last week help to teach the team how to win and finish a game?
"I think that was a great character game last week, that is the type of game you build on. We should have been ahead early. We had our opportunities to put three or four touchdowns on the board early, we just can not be blowing these opportunities as far as what we are doing. There are a couple of games this year where we had opportunities to win the game outright by two or three touchdowns."

Would you like to see the non-conference games packaged together?
"You like to get the non-conference games out of the way and then get into the conference games. That is ideally how you like to schedule. I think it is great, I like to playing on national TV, because as much as you send out letters and call kids. This Friday night everybody is playing themselves, so it does not help us from a home standpoint as far as getting kids to the game because they have their own games. But, I do think ESPN replays the games so much, that the kids get the chance to see it. UCF is not a secret any more, people have seen you on television, they know what is going on. I think the big thing is every time that we can get a TV exposure game, we are going to get it. I will take it everytime. I do not like playing mid week at home, obviously, because it hurts the gate, hurts the fans, and hurts the people traveling any distance, it hurts the parents. They can't take off for two days to come down and catch a game. We'll try to limit it, but it's really the conference schedule that gives it to us. I did not go out and schedule the games, it is here is when you play them."

What do you think of Pittsburgh quarterback Tyler Palko?
"The thing about him is that he is a very smart guy that can hurt you, not always with his arm, but with his feet. We have seen quarterbacks like him, but I think this kid is more efficient of all the ones that we have seen. He rarely takes a sack, he is going to get rid of the ball before he does that. He is pretty much on target with his reads on coverage. He is a good quarterback. Obviously he is a great competitor and you see that on the field. He does not make a lot of mistakes, so our defense will have quite a contest getting after that one. He is ranked second in the country in pass efficiency for a reason. He does not make a lot of mistakes, which is a sign of good quarterback."